Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Waters Gyapong has been a journalist and novelist for more than 20 years. She has worked in print, radio and television, including 12 years as a producer for CBC TV's news and current affairs programming. She currently covers religion and politics primarily for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith expressed shock the NDP's playing of partisan politics has prevented debate on anti-trafficking Bill C-310 and delayed the bill from going immediately to the Senate.

Smith had expected the NDP would support her bill as it had at every previous stage. Bill C-310 had unanimously passed through the Justice Committee with no recommendations.

"I am absolutely stunned by this," said Smith. "Bill C-310 will strengthen Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking and this should not be a partisan matter. I have worked so hard to secure the support of all parties and have appreciated the support of all MPs for this bill up until today."

OTTAWA - The 2012 federal budget is not as draconian as pre-budget speculation led Canadians to expect, though pro-family and anti-poverty groups still found aspects of it disappointing.

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper delivered its first majority budget March 29 without the “hidden agenda” its critics have long said was forthcoming. Instead, it focused on jobs, growth and prosperity. The Conservatives did not cut government spending in absolute terms, only reined in the rate of growth of government spending to reduce the deficit gradually until achieving a balanced budget in 2015-2016.

OTTAWA - Quebec’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) have expressed opposition to a Quebec committee’s recommendation to allow euthanasia under limited circumstances.

“While we are pleased that members of the commission recommend greater access to palliative care for all people, we disagree with the recommendations to change laws to recognize physician-assisted dying as appropriate end-of-life care,” the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec said in a statement. “Changing the terms ‘assisted suicide’ and ‘euthanasia’ to ‘physician-assisted dying’ does not change reality.”

OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has launched a new “Life and Family” page at the web site that promotes a multi-year initiative for rebuilding a culture of life and family and promoting the new evangelization.

The information is meant as a resource for dioceses, lay movements and associations to help them participate in the initiative, which has been underway since January.

The vision proposes strengthening the family as “the domestic church” and making it a vehicle for evangelizing not only its members but the wider society.

OTTAWA - Living with Dignity (LWD), a network of anti-euthanasia groups in Quebec, has condemned the province’s Select Committee on Dying with Dignity report’s support for euthanasia as “dangerous” and a “profound act of political betrayal.”

After holding consultations across the province last year, on Mar. 22 the committee recommended the legalization of euthanasia for people experiencing constant, unbearable physical or psychological suffering.

OTTAWA - Unplug from the Internet, take out those ear buds, take some time to be still, rediscover the love of God — and make prayer time and stillness a habit if you want to effectively share the Good News with young people.

That was the message delivered to 300 Catholic youth ministry leaders from across Canada recently at the Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network conference on the theme: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

OTTAWA - The Canadian government has recognized two outstanding defenders of religious freedom and human rights when awards were granted to the assassinated Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Argentinian anti-trafficking activist Susana Trimarco.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird presented the awards at the 2012 John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights Award ceremony Mar. 14 at the former Ottawa City Hall.

OTTAWA - The same week a student group came under fire for distributing condoms on the Saint Paul University (SPU) campus, a pro-life group hosted a panel on the benefits of natural family planning (NFP), revealing the contrasts between artificial and natural means of preventing pregnancy.

SPU administrators ordered the student group to stop leaving a bowl of condoms for free pickup by students. That prompted a student to write an open letter, backed by 100 others, that led to stories by the news media.

A bill to enable Canada to prosecute human-trafficking involving Canadian citizens or permanent residents overseas received unanimous approval March 15 by the Parliamentary Justice Committee.

Justice Committee members heard witnesses from anti-human trafficking groups, including a survivor of trafficking into the sex trade, speak in favor of MP Joy Smith’s Bill C-310 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking of persons). In a rare consensus across party lines, MPs went through the Bill line by line before adopting it and sending it back to the House of Commons for third reading debate.

OTTAWA - A year after Quebec priest Fr. Raymond Gravel filed a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against LifeSiteNews (LSN), the online pro-life news service has filed a defence that argues the lawsuit is an attack on press freedom.

On its website, LSN wrote it is “now free to present many of the disturbing details about what we will argue is an abusive and politically-motivated lawsuit that amounts to an extreme attack on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.”