Photo by Stacie DaPonte/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Report ignores ‘actual’ religious discrimination, civil rights league charges

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  • February 5, 2018
OTTAWA – A government report on religious discrimination has overlooked Ottawa’s own failings, including its conduct in the Canada Summer Jobs controversy, according to the president of the Catholic Civil Rights League.

In fact, a Heritage Committee report released Feb. 1 ignored “actual examples of religious discrimination in our midst,” said CCRL President Phil Horgan, referring to the ongoing Canada Summer Jobs application controversy.

Although Employment Minister Patty Hajdu extended the Feb. 2 deadline for applications by a week, she refused to bend to opposition from Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders by removing the controversial pro-abortion attestation that applicants must check off before an an organization will be considered for funding.

“We look forward to the majority on the committee speaking out on the improper demands for attestation from faith groups against their deeply held convictions against abortion when it comes to applying for summer job grants,” Horgan said.

He said similar standards of non-discrimination should also apply to Ontario doctors who oppose euthanasia and to the struggles of Trinity Western to receive accreditation for its proposed law school.

Although the CCRL is “pleased” the report underlined “in a forceful way that religious discrimination was an ongoing issue,” Horgan, a constitutional lawyer, said “the fine words” sometimes seem to be ignored by government.

The report, titled “Taking action against systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia,” was commissioned a year ago after the House of Commons passed M-013, a non-binding motion that condemned Islamophobia and religious discrimination. The committee’s report made 30 recommendations to battle racism and discrimination.

A statement made to the committee by former Ambassador of Religious Freedom Andrew Bennett was quoted in the report. He cited a need to address anti-Muslim hatred because “these self-same evils manifest themselves in hatred of Jews, Catholics, LGBTQ persons, people who oppose same-sex marriage, First Nations people, pro-lifers.”

The CCRL opposed the original motion M-103 because “discrimination against any or all religions should be addressed, without some form of priority for Islam,” Horgan said.

The Liberal majority report recommends that Jan. 29, the date of the Quebec City mosque shooting that killed six and wounded 19 others while at prayer last year, “be designated as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, and other forms of religious discrimination.”

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