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Alison Gowling/The Gauntlet

Our very own House of Lords

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There are weeks when the idiocy of the world that surrounds me is such that I can only shake my head and say "Argh!"

Last week, I received literature from no less than four hate groups seeking publicity, sympathy or support. The first was a white supremacist group, followed by an anti-Semitic council. Next up was an anti-gay, er, sorry, pro-heterosexual Web site and finally, another anti-gay group announcing their intent to protest the Calgary Gay Pride Parade.

Argh, argh, argh.

A quick trot through the Web sites of these groups revealed two things in common (three if we consider the fact that they are maintained by people utterly off their rockers). They all seek validation of their cause by citing freedom of thought and expression and all claim to be justified by the will of God.

Argh!

You'd think it would be easy enough to discredit these groups on both counts. Although they do enjoy the right to freedom of conscience, belief and expression, so too does every other Canadian citizen--gay, straight, black, caucasian, Christian and Jew alike. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a double-edged sword that protects the rights of every individual only to the extent that the individual doesn't violate anyone else's fundamental freedoms.

Having ascertained this fact, I was smugly patting myself on the back and doing the "Booyah!" dance when my eye fell on a little sentence at the start of the Charter that stopped me in my tracks:

"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law."

Say it with me now: Argh!

The very document that is intended to protect the basic choices of every Canadian is itself prefaced with a bold statement of religious discrimination. Canada is no longer a white Christian nation. We enjoy a diverse population made up of people from around the world--people of all races and religions who may not recognize the supremacy of God. The Charter could be invoked to preferentially protect only those who recognize the supremacy of God, not Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu, Zeus or Osiris. God and God alone.

You may say it's a stretch, and you may be right. My concern is that this sentence will be the loophole that one day allows a hate group such as the National Alliance to be acquitted of a hate crime. The civil justice system of Canada is guided largely by interpretations of the Charter, and there doesn't seem to be much room for interpretation in that bleak statement: "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God." If a hate group claims to be enacting the will of God and the Charter recognizes the supremacy of God, then the actions and beliefs of these groups are effectively condoned by the Charter.

Canada can no longer be a country that recognizes the sole supremacy of God. For the sake of protecting the civil rights of every Canadian citizen, it cannot be. There is no room for discourse on diversity in a society governed by a Charter that recognizes one religion and its doctrines as supreme to all the others. To properly fulfil its perceived role, the Charter needs to be revised and have that statement of preference removed. Otherwise, discriminatory groups do indeed find validity by claiming to propagate the word of God. They are protected by the stated affiliation of the Charter in their hateful activities and the fundamental freedoms--the true fundamental freedoms--of every man, woman and child are at risk.

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