This week’s program is built around the theme of the recent ARPA Fall Tour which was itself built on the theme “When the foundations crumble, what can the righteous do?” On the program, we speak with ARPA Canada’s Law and Policy Director André Schutten about what a Christian response should be to evidence of the crumbling of the foundations of society.
Click here to read more.
In the news:
More evidence of that “crumbling”: the defeat at 2nd reading of Bill C-225, the “Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act” also known as “Cassie and Molly’s Law”. Click here to read the story.
The same week saw the House pass Bill C-16 at 2nd reading, which will entrench the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity” as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canada Human Rights Act. Click here to read the story.
And the Ontario government has embarked on a wholesale redefinition of what constitutes a nuclear family by rushing through a law that would remove all references to “father” and “mother” from all Ontario laws and documents. Bill 28 could be passed in less than a month. You can read a full description of the bill, and monitor its progress at this link. Click here to read the story.
A majority of Members of Parliament have decided they don’t want to have any further discussion on Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagentall’s Private Member’s Bill, C-225. The bill, titled the “Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act”, would have imposed separate penalties on those who harm an unborn child while committing an assault against a pregnant woman. The final hour of debate on the bill was held last Monday. Several MP’s, including Conservative Rachael Harder from Lethbridge, spoke out strongly in favour of the Bill. Calling the law a “direct response to pleas for justice”, Harder said there was a “significant gap in the Criminal Code, which fails to protect pregnant women and their pre-born children.” BC Conservative Mark Warawa also spoke in favour of the Bill, pleading with the government to at least let it go to the Justice Committee for further discussion, because “the government has said that they are opposed to all forms of gender violence,” and traditionally Private Member’s Bills involve a free vote. However, second reading was defeated by a vote of 209 to 76, and not a single Liberal or NDP Member of Parliament voted in favour of it.
Parliament held another 2nd reading vote last week. By a count of 248 to 40, Bill C-16 passed on to be studied by the Justice and Human Rights Committee. This law would add the words “gender expression” and “gender identity” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. ARPA Canada’s Law and Policy Director, André Schutten, says the bill is redundant because trans-gendered people are “already protected by the Criminal Code and the Human Rights Act”, including specific prohibitions against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and disability. Schutten concedes that referring to “disability” in this context “might offend some people”, but he says “people who suffer from gender dysphoria – where they have internal psychological confusion about whether or not they are male or female – need protection under the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of a mental disability of psychological issue.”
Schutten says the problem with Bill C-16 is that it validates, in law, the idea that there are multiple forms of gender identity beyond male or female, and then forces society to accept that idea. “If I come out against Bill C-16, the other side says I’m ‘hating’ and (that) I want to discriminate against trans people. That’s not the case at all, but by celebrating multiple gender identities we are doing way more harm than good, (because we are) embracing what is scientifically and psychologically confirmed as a form of a delusion, and that never helps.” Schutten says ARPA will try to make this case when the Bill goes to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for review.
To see how your MP voted, click here.
Fourteen evening presentations in eighteen nights, plus nine high school presentations, covering territory from southern Ontario to Northern BC. That sums up the travel involved in the annual ARPA Canada fall tour. André Schutten and Colin Postma presented at each of the 14 evening stops, focussing on the issues of transgenderism, pornography and what has become known as the “culture of death” with respect to abortion and euthanasia. The tour presentations were focused on answering the question posed in Psalm 11: “When the foundations crumble, what can the righteous do?” Schutten says in light of the developments happening in our culture, it can be tempting to view that verse as a rhetorical question, but that isn’t the right way to look at it. He says David’s answer to the question is that “the LORD is the one in whom I take refuge, and the LORD loves righteous deeds and so our response as Christians is not to flee to the mountains – not to throw up our hands in exasperation – but rather to advance good public policy, (and) to engage, to do righteous deeds, to love our neighbours as ourselves by advancing good public policy that is good not only for Christians but for all Canadians whether or not they are Christian.”
CASSIE AND MOLLY’S LAW – NEXT STEPS
Cassie and Molly’s Law – more formally known as Bill C-225, the “Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act”, failed to pass second reading in the House of Commons last week.
Lighthouse News connected with WeNeedaLAW Director Mike Schouten just a few hours after the Parliamentary vote.
We reached him at ARPA Canada’s Ottawa office.
LN: OK, so it was a disappointing night. Cassie and Molly’s Law did not make it beyond second reading and into Committee. What happened? What drove that vote?
MS: Well, I think fear, ultimately, Al. I think fear drove the vote. The vote ended up being 209 opposed to 76 in favour. The governing party, the Liberal Party of Canada, voted as a block. We have to assume that the vote was whipped. This would have simply sent it to the Justice Committee, where the conversation could continue, and where people like Jeff Durham and Nancy Kaake could be heard by the Committee. Experts could be brought in to see if the fear-mongering that was taking place – that this Bill was unconstitutional, that it would impede a woman’s right to choose, etc. – if this really was the case. But nevertheless, there is not a feeling of “this is the end of the road”, but certainly that this is a “bump in the road”. It’s a disappointment. I spent some time with Cathay Wagantall, Jeff Durham, and Nancy Kaake this evening, and they are, of course, disappointed. But they are also seeing this as a launching pad for a continuation or the next chapter or the next page of their efforts. And hopefully all the Canadians who support this; support the efforts of them as well.
LN: What could that next chapter look like? I mean, given the fact that we’ve taken this to Parliament and essentially Parliament has now said: “we don’t want to talk about this anymore”. Where do we go from here?
MS: When it pertains to Cassie and Molly’s story, to the “Molly Matters” effort that initiated in Windsor, Ontario, there is still somebody there – Matthew Brush – who’s been accused and charged with this crime. That case will be likely going to trial in the spring of 2017. But it will play out in the next election. It was very interesting. I was in the House of Commons for the vote with Jeff Durham and Nancy Kaake and a few members of their family. We got passes into the government gallery, so we were looking directly at the Liberal government as the vote was held, and there was an incredible level of discomfort as they stood one by one to vote “no”. They were grappling with this, but clearly they capitulated, not only to fear but also to the demands of the Party brass in the sense that this was perceivably a whipped vote in the House of Commons.
And it will be something that plays out not only in the Windsor area when those three NDP MPs stand for re-election again, but also when it comes to Conservative MPs who didn’t vote or who abstained from the vote or who voted against.
LN: How did those three NDP members from Windsor – I mean they were the ones who were most directly involved – how did they end up voting? Did they all oppose it?
MS: They all voted in opposition to the Bill, as did Michael Chong, (the) Conservative Member of Parliament who’s running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party has as part of its Party policy that they support almost this exact law.
LN: WeNeedaLaw.ca has been following this thing fairly closely right from the beginning. Organizationally, structurally, what have we learned from this particular battle that we can take as we move forward?
MS: I think what lessons we’ve learned is that if we want to see success – a bill like this passing – we need to bring in more partners to the conversation. We were successful in getting the Native Women’s Association of Canada to endorse Bill C-225, but we need more groups from across the political spectrum; people who might not have the same ideology when it comes to many other things that deal with social and other policy in Canada, but when it comes to issues like this we see eye to eye. And we need to pursue those partnerships a little bit more intensely. But we also hope that this will encourage Canadians who supported this effort to realize that there’s a lot more to political engagement than this. We need people to become more involved in the political party process so that we can not only have a loud voice in our country, but we also have the people in the positions of power who are going to vote in favour of… sensible laws like this.
LN: Did this whole discussion crack the “Overton Window” open a little further? (And to those folks who don’t know what we’re talking about, the Overton Window is the notion that if you talk about something enough, it becomes respectable for politicians to at least recognize and acknowledge that a particular issue exists.) Did this discussion open that window a little further?
MS: I certainly think it did, Al. There were thousands and thousands of Canadians who engaged in the political process who have not done so before; pro-life Canadians in particular are more and more understanding that if we are ever to gain successes politically, we have to understand that an incremental approach is how we need to do this. And this was one such opportunity. I mean this bill would not have affected the status quo on abortion, and yet they came up and supported it. And Parliamentarians were forced to grapple with something that they don’t grapple with very often, and that is protections for pre-born children, albeit in a limited capacity.
And again, I just want to reference the atmosphere in the House of Commons this evening. You, when you watch it on TV, you just hear the Speaker announcing riding-by- riding-by-riding. When you’re in the House there’s just an incredible amount of chatter and joking and laughing as everybody’s voting. When this Bill came up for a vote, Jeff Durham and Nancy Kaake stood up when Cathay Wagantall stood up, and everybody looked at them from the Liberal side. And there was dead silence. And you could tell how they were – essentially a lot of them – were voting against their conscience. They knew that there was something wrong with what they were doing here. So I think the Overton Window is shifting. Especially because this Bill was so narrow in its focus, and it really brought both sides together. It said if you want to be pro-choice in Canada, you certainly need to support both choices. And obviously from the pro-life side of things, any Bill that will – even in a limited capacity – protect pre-born children is a positive bill and ought to be supported. So I have great hope for the future. This is something that, as an organization, ARPA Canada and the WeNeedaLaw.ca campaign, we can build from when it comes to other Private Member’s bills and motions, and hopefully and God willing, working with a government one day who recognizes that Canada is way out of line with international standards when it comes to protecting children in the womb, and it’s about time that we started bringing in protections for human beings who ought to be protected by law.
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