Fundamental Freedoms

22 Mar 2021 Conservative Convention Debrief

Last week, the Conservative Party of Canada held its bi-annual policy convention. Due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, this convention was held virtually, enabling a record number of delegates to attend this year. Conventions are opportunities for members of political parties to come together, build the party, and prepare for the next election. At this virtual convention, delegates participated in campaign training, watched Conservative leader Erin O’Toole outline the party’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan, voted for national councillors (who help run and direct the party), voted on changes to the party constitution, and,...

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20 Mar 2021 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Consultation

The CPSO is the regulatory body for all medical professionals in Ontario. Physicians are required to register with the CPSO, who will then monitor quality of care and investigate and discipline any doctors who do not follow professional conduct as described in the various policies. Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying, the CPSO has no authority over the existing legislation or changes to it – this would fall to Federal and Provincial legislatures, or to the courts. However, the CPSO does have jurisdiction over the policies given to doctors regarding how...

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19 Mar 2021 BC Supreme Court Upholds COVID-19 Restrictions on Worship Services

In a disappointing ruling released last night, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld the prohibition of in-person worship services. These restrictions were first implemented on November 19th, 2020, and continue to this day. Many Christians will be very disappointed, perhaps even angry, with this decision. Reformed Christians have an earnest, deeply-held belief that they must both respect the governing authorities and gather regularly to worship with other believers. The absolute prohibition of in-person worship services placed many Christians in an unfair dilemma, making it very difficult...

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16 Mar 2021 Grassroots Campaign on worship services in Ontario

After lockdowns last Spring and again this past Winter, Ontario has returned to the colour-coded system with most regions returning to either 'red', 'orange', or 'yellow' zones. As a result, churches in those regions are now able to meet again with a 30% capacity cap for worship services. Some congregations in areas like Toronto, Peel, and Lambton remain in the 'grey' zone – under lockdown. As such, we were happy to hear the announcement on March 12 that allows for a 15% capacity for in-person worship servcies while a region...

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09 Mar 2021 Recap of the Beaudoin v. B.C. Court Hearings on B.C.’s Prohibition of Corporate Worship

Last week, the BC Supreme Court spent four days (March 1-3, 5) hearing the case of Beaudoin v. BC, where three BC churches are challenging the Provincial Health Order prohibiting in-person worship services. The case was heard by Chief Justice Hinkson, the Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court, and now we await his decision. The Chief Justice had rejected an injunction request from the government in mid-February when the province tried to force the closure of churches that continued to hold in-person worship services contrary to the public health orders. The...

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19 Feb 2021 Updates on Worship Service Restrictions in British Columbia

Update #1: Injunction Against Churches Dismissed Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of British Columbia denied the government’s request for an injunction against a number of churches in British Columbia that continue to carefully hold corporate worship services contrary to the provincial health order in accordance with their conscience. This is not the final decision in this court case. An injunction is a temporary court order designed to force a specific group of people to do or not do something until the court makes a final decision on their case. In this instance,...

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10 Feb 2021 Haggai and the call to rebuild the temple: a case study in church-state relations

Canadians find themselves beginning 2021 under varying levels of lockdown. Across our country churches are wrestling with how to respond. The Bible seems to contain few practical examples of believers facing something comparable to our current scenario. However, over the Christmas break, I stumbled across an article about the story of Haggai and its connection to the book of Ezra. The story struck me as having particular relevance, or at least uncanny parallels, for the church in Canada today. I offer this reflection not to recommend a particular way forward...

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05 Feb 2021 Why is ARPA Canada Advocating for In-Person Worship Services During a Pandemic?

Those who follow ARPA Canada’s work will know that government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions have received a lot of attention from us over the last year. We expect this to continue into 2021 as we seek to intervene in a variety of court cases with a specific focus on the restrictions limiting or prohibiting in-person worship services. Almost a year has passed since the first lockdowns in March of 2020, and Christians in most of the provinces in Canada are currently forbidden by their provincial government from taking part in corporate worship. Through...

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21 Jan 2021 Constitutionality of Worship Service Restrictions Challenged in British Columbia

A petition filed by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on behalf of a variety of individuals challenges the British Columbian Public Health Orders that prohibit all in-person worship services. The names of the petitioners are not published to avoid undue attention, but it includes several pastors of churches currently gathering despite the restrictions. The petitioners are asking the Court for a declaration that the Orders forbidding gathering for worship are an unjustifiable infringement of Charter guaranteed freedoms and therefore should be set aside. There are also eight separate $2,300...

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19 Jan 2021 Vernon City Council Supports Designating Worship as Essential

Last week, the Vernon city council voted to write a letter to the provincial government, urging them to consider worship services to be essential services. The essential nature of worship is a characteristic that many Reformed Christians across Canada have come to understand while wrestling with public health orders prohibiting in-person worship services. This particular action by the Vernon city council was prompted by a Reformed Christian who decided that writing to the provincial authorities wasn’t enough. This person went further, bringing this issue to the attention of municipal Councillor Anderson. This...

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