It was a pleasure to join Greg Musselman on Closer to the Fire, the Voice of the Martyrs Canada podcast, to discuss the public health orders and the Church in Canada in light of Pastor James Coates’ detention in Alberta.
Gleanings from the mind of a Christian Leader and Lawyer
It was a pleasure to join Greg Musselman on Closer to the Fire, the Voice of the Martyrs Canada podcast, to discuss the public health orders and the Church in Canada in light of Pastor James Coates’ detention in Alberta.
Originally published at Convivium on February 16, 2021.
On this day before Lent, Don Hutchinson counsels Convivium readers to prepare for the 40 days before Easter as a mix of self-denial and doing unto others as we would have them do for us.
Apart from hot pancakes for lunch, the day held no particular meaning for me.
It was a next-day Wednesday some year, perhaps even the same year, when I noticed my next-door neighbour had a smudge of something on his forehead after school. “Hey Mike, you’ve got some dirt on your forehead. You’ll want to wash it off before your mom sees it,” or words to that effect, opened for me a whole different understanding of why once each year we had pancakes for Tuesday lunch instead of Saturday breakfast.
Shrove Tuesday, as Mike called it, was the last day before Lent. Ash Wednesday was the first day of Lent. The pancake lunch was a moveable feast, determined by the date on which Easter fell. Fill up on the good stuff on Fat Tuesday (yet another name for this special day), followed by Lent; 40 days of fasting from fatty foods and engaging in personal introspection, remembering Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. Jesus started his ministry following those 40 days, and Lent, I was told, was also a time to consider how one might do good for those in need.
The “dirt” on Mike’s forehead? His priest would save the palm leaves that littered the church following Palm Sunday services the year before, then burn them on Pancake Tuesday, mix them with a little oil to make them sticky, and place the sign of the cross on the foreheads of Catholics at Mass on Ash Wednesday. Wednesday Mass at Mike’s school included an ashen cross on his forehead for the rest of the day. His mother would be looking for it when he got home.
As a young adult, my formative Christian experience took place in The Salvation Army. We observed our own form of Lent. Instead of Lent, Salvationists call it Self-Denial. We identified something we really enjoyed, then fasted from it or paid a self-determined fine for it. For 40 days I gave up sweets and put the equivalent I would have spent on cookies, candies, and desserts in an envelope to support Home Missions – helping fund Salvation Army churches and ministries in Canadian communities that were not able to support them. In addition, my Self-Denial envelope acquired 25 cents for each half-hour of television I watched.
We too contemplated Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, with extra Scripture reading and prayer time. Self-Denial was a time for self-reflection, thinking about our excesses and the needs of others.
There are two different stories told about William Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army along with his wife Catherine, sending a telegram containing the single word, Others.
One story suggests that General Booth, an aging invalid in 1910, was unable to attend The Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Day convention. On Christmas Eve it was suggested that in lieu of his traditional opening remarks a telegram be sent to be read to the gathered crowd. Telegrams were paid for by the word, not including the name of the sender. Mindful of the expense, the telegram read to gathered Salvationists that Christmas day said simply, “Others. Signed, General Booth.”
The second story suggests that in 1911 Booth sent a Christmas telegram to Salvation Army leaders around the world. Funds were short so he edited to one paragraph, then one sentence, and finally one word. Again, the telegram is said to have read, “Others. Signed, General Booth.” That would have been his last Christmas message. The General was, as Salvationists say, promoted to glory in August 1912.
Either story might be well met with an acknowledging nod of the head. The ministry of The Salvation Army was and remains synonymous with others.
Whether Catholic, Salvationist, Reformed, Pentecostal, or none-of-the-aforementioned, perhaps our pandemic Pancake Tuesday feasts of 2021 might be followed by 40 days of self-reflection, thinking of others, and doing something about it. In a world where self seems often the center of our thoughts, our service, and our purchases, thinking of and doing for others from now until Easter Sunday might be soul-replenishing.
It might even become an enduring habit.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)
Originally published at Convivium on February 2, 2021.
We can agree or disagree over policies, but the Prime Minister and other party leaders deserve the respect conveyed by the honorific preceding their names, Don Hutchison writes.
Some will have read the question as if it was written, “Why, Mr. Trudeau?
Why the multiple ethics violations, Mr. Trudeau? Why the departure of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott, and others? Why make announcements about restricted borders without requiring adherence to the announced restrictions? Why is Canada the country Pfizer felt comfortable cutting off from its COVID-19 vaccine? Etc.
But, there is no comma in the question precisely because it is not written as a question to Mr. Trudeau. It is a question about him.
Why Mr. Trudeau?
Some may think it a question about why we have Justin Trudeau as our Prime Minister, i.e. why not someone else?
In that context, the question might evoke a guttural partisanship. Fiberals, Libtards and dictator are terms I’ve seen. They align with Cons, Conswervatives and hidden agenda to describe the Liberal Party’s primary contender for government, the Conservative Party.
But, I’m not here challenging Mr. Trudeau’s elected role as Prime Minister. And, I will get around to a few comments on the peril of polarized partisanship. So…
Why Mr. Trudeau?
The question is about him, but it’s directed to you and me. Why refer to our Prime Minister as Mr. Trudeau?
First, he’s earned it.
Mr. Trudeau secured the nomination, then campaigned and won the Papineau riding in 2008. He has held it since that time. That’s four elections. Members of Parliament are due respect.
Mr. Trudeau pursued and won the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2013. He campaigned as Liberal Party leader in 2015 and 2019. Both times, through free and democratic election, his party secured enough seats in the House of Commons for him to be appointed Prime Minister by Canada’s head of State, Queen Elizabeth II. Prime Ministers are due respect.
Second, even if Mr. Trudeau had not earned the “Mr.” through political office, it would be his as a sign of respect for his person and age: He’ll be 50 this year.
It’s disappointing to see ad hominem tropes based on Mr. Trudeau’s surname: Trudope, Trou d’eau (hole of water), and others. In terms of disrespect, they align with O’Tool and O’Fool. Not that clever really. Sort of like a recent social media mock debate about hockey player nicknames, in which the question was asked whether Browner and Brownster were too similar sounding once Brownie was taken for the Ottawa Senators’ Connor Brown, Josh Brown, and Logan Brown.
I admit my own failure to consistently hold to this simple 1, 2, 3 standard.
During the 2019 election, I was unsettled by what I perceived as insincerity in the disconnection between the Liberal Party’s environmental posturing and its practices. Arguing taxpayers get more back in carbon price rebates than they pay in carbon taxes highlighted what a vehicle owner pays at the pump. It did not address additional costs for farms, food production, transportation for all goods, and the GST/HST charged on top of the carbon tax.
Flying two campaign planes and buying carbon offsets does not reduce emissions. It pays a financial penalty for them. The day Mr. Trudeau made a campaign announcement on environmental policy at a lakefront from behind a podium that had Green Party green signage instead of Liberal Party red was the day I started writing furiously about this apparent hypocrisy. I wrote a scathing article. Thankfully, my submission to Convivium was declined, with the explanation that it did not meet the benchmark for being balanced, factual, and respectful.
There’s a figure of speech used in politics that, lamentably, is drawn from a tragedy of religious extremism. Jim Jones was an American cult leader who led his followers to establish a commune in Guyana. There, in 1978, at Jones’ unquestionable decree 918 people – over 300 of them children – committed mass suicide by drinking a cyanide-laced powdered drink mix. Beware swallowing the Kool-Aid of personal or partisan passion that views political competitors as enemy combatants, evil and without potential for good in themselves or their policy proposals simply because they are in another camp. That’s poison to the mind and soul.
The candidate who applied for the nomination in Papineau did fail to disclose a history of wearing blackface and a publicly reported incident of groping a female journalist. He said he learned his lesson.
The first-term Prime Minister left unfulfilled four years later his promises of electoral reform, small deficits, a balanced budget, ending boil-water advisories on First Nations’ reserves, and transparency in government. Broken promises are part of the basis on which almost all elected politicians are evaluated in subsequent elections.
Shifting statements on SNC-Lavalin and his use of blackface, or using another party’s signature hue for an announcement vis-à-vis that other party’s raison d’être, don’t make Mr. Trudeau an evil person. They are questionable behaviour.
As a Christian, I am exhorted not to allow such behaviour to transform my mind, my attitude, or the character of my writing about Mr. Trudeau or others. I was reminded of that when beckoned back to balance, facts and respect. I’m grateful.
I hope this article pays it forward.
Yes, editorial policies at most publications permit or require respectful use of last name only after initial use of full name, positional identification, or an opening Mr. The key is respectful.
Over the last year, Prime Minister Trudeau has led a government dealing with life-threatening health situations for Canadians that has required an extraordinary degree of cooperation with provincial and territorial leaders. Mr. Trudeau has been at the federal helm, navigating the uncertainties of governing in a minority Parliament while being disconnected from the usual face-to-face gatherings with caucus members and constituents.
You or I might disagree with how he has handled policy commitments, Parliament, and pandemic measures over the last year, but Justin Trudeau is the person Canadians elected to high position. He bears the responsibility. Not you. Not me. Mr. Trudeau is due both my earned and unearned respect, whether commenting in support or criticism of his behaviour.
That’s why Mr. Trudeau. And Mr. O’Toole, Monsieur Blanchet and Mr. Singh as well.
Presentation for the National House of Prayer, January 20, 2021.
I’ll begin by talking about context and the importance of the context in which both bills arise.
A Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that circulated widely this past MLK Day reads:
How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.
This inspirational quote is often used to inspire the challenge of any law deemed by the user of the quote as unjust. It is most often quoted without context and out of context. King was committed to peaceful protest against segregationist laws. He was prepared to accept the consequences for his peaceful protest, whether or not the law was changed as a result. King wrote these sentences in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail where he was in custody on 16 April 1963. He would be dead within five years, without seeing the change he was seeking.
Why start there in a brief talk about two bills currently before Canada’s Parliament?
Because context is important.
Let’s turn our thoughts to the context in which Bills C-6 and C-7 exist.
First, we live in a free and democratic society. Please do not mistake claims that religious freedom is or may be limited as a targeted assault on the Church. Please do not mistake the imposition of a political agenda that differs from yours as the end of our democracy.
Christians in Canada’s free and democratic society have rights and freedoms that exceed those found in many countries around the world. The challenge is to use our freedom wisely.
Second, the culture in which we live has been moving away from Judeo-Christian influence for well over half a century. Following the Second World War people left the Church disillusioned with a God who allowed two world wars and a depression during their lifetimes. They also succumbed to the developing distractions of 1) the automobile, with the allure of a Sunday drive at the end of a six day workweek, and 2) the television, which offered remote church in the morning and The Wonderful World of Disney in technicolour at 6:00 p.m.
One manifestation of rejecting the Church’s influence was the sexual revolution, which churns its wheels forward to this day. Slogans of the sexual revolution apply to sexual preferences, abortion, and more recently end-of-life decisions. “My body. My choice.”
Another manifestation was the shift in the language of human rights. Long before 1982’s Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the 1947 United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the increasing influence of American media were pushing Canadians culturally toward the pursuit of personal gratification and away from considerations of societal responsibility.
The Canadian Church has been wrestling with its place in society and its understanding, misunderstanding, and revised understanding, of the Bible since the 1960s.
Which brings me to my third point. The Bible.
Despite its devaluation by the broader culture, the Bible remains true from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. God has not changed. God’s Word has not changed.
All 27 books of the New Testament were written in the context of a Church experiencing persecution. The persecution started with people in culture rejecting Christians because of their claim that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. The persecution extended to government action because of cultural influence and because of the Christian claim that Jesus was the only King to whom they would bow.
We cannot disregard that history or the experience of persecuted Christians in nations around the world today. Canadian Christians cannot confine select passages of Scripture to the first-century and import others we like better into the twenty-first. Jesus said,
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:9-11 NIV)
Jesus also said,
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts… and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness. (Matthew 10:16-18, ESV)
Let’s consider Bills C-6 and C-7 in the context of democratic rights, claims to personal autonomy, and the Bible.
In our democracy every Canadian is equally placed to pursue the development, amendment or elimination of laws through elected legislatures and through the courts.
Bill C-7, medical assistance in dying, is the result of people pursuing their understanding of constitutional rights in the courts. Existing law was upheld in 1993 then overturned in 2015, and Parliament decided to accept the direction of the courts.
Parliament has the constitutional authority to reject such decisions by the courts but has not.
The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case in 2015 cut against established Biblical, traditional, and legal understandings of the sanctity of human life and murder. But, the decision was accepted by the government as the direction of and for culture. The law shifted.
In 2016, Bill C-14 presented a legally conservative interpretation of the court’s direction.
The Trudeau Government’s decision not to appeal the overturning of C-14 in the 2019 Truchon decision of a single judge of the Quebec Superior Court was puzzling. I don’t recall another instance where a government passed a law and the same government did not fight for that law to be upheld when it was challenged in court.
As citizens, we are constitutionally empowered to intercede on Bill C-7 through submissions to Parliament, in this instance the Senate where the bill is now being studied, and in the public square. The wise as serpents and innocent as doves personal presentations are perhaps best made by those whose lives and livelihoods may be most directly altered by the proposed changes to the law: those living with disabilities, and people employed in palliative care such as doctors, nurses and other caregivers. For those who submit to the governing authorities as directed by Paul in Romans 13:1-7 and by Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-17, public rallies are effectively proscribed due to pandemic regulations.
As Christians, we take our right to intercede a step further because as citizens of heaven we are called to pray. That’s the directive Paul gave in 1 Timothy 2, to pray for our leaders that we might live in peace.
If C-7 becomes law with its current scope, and because healthcare is constitutionally provincial jurisdiction, if provincial governments and medical associations do not step in with action supportive of freedom of conscience and religion to exempt the unwilling from compulsory involvement in acts they consider unconscionable, we can anticipate:
Bill C-6 is said to be intended to address the issue of involuntary conversion therapy. The concern behind the bill arises out of sometimes torturous practices, in which some members of the Church participated. Good intentions are not deliberated when practices used are demonstrably harmful.
As drafted, C-6 is an insidious bill with unpredictable results. The current structure of the bill leaves it open to interpretation and application that goes beyond the stated purpose, potentially exposing voluntary, non-harmful counselling and spiritual guidance to risk of criminal prosecution. The failure of the Trudeau Government and the House of Commons’ Justice Committee to stipulate a precise definition for what is illegal implores us to continue to advocate and to pray for careful definition. If the definition of conversion therapy is not properly refined before the bill is passed, we can anticipate:
For those who have a deep seated understanding of the sanctity of human life and a biblically informed appreciation for parents, children and sexuality, the proposals in C-6 and C-7 represent new unjust laws, out of harmony with the moral law of God.
But most Canadians have little interest in these bills. They are unconcerned about God and they do not perceive their personal rights or autonomy to be affected. For them, these are just new laws, being put in place to fit with the evolving cultural understanding of morality. C-7 mirrors the thought it is more humane to give a lethal injection to a dying pet than not to give one to a person who no longer desires to live. C-6 affirms that judging others’ sexual proclivities is no one else’s concern.
It took commitment, effort and time to convince Canadians to accept these ideas.
It will take commitment, effort, and time to influence the culture to believe otherwise.
 Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General),  3 S.C.R. 519.
 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5,  1 S.C.R. 331.
 Truchon c. Procureur général du Canada, 2019 QCCS 3792.
 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1-7 ESV)
 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)
 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV)
 Constitution Act, 1867, section 92, subsection 7.
 R. v. Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society,  2 S.C.R. 606; Ontario v. Canadian Pacific Ltd.,  2 S.C.R. 1031.
When A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum debuted on Broadway in 1962 Stephen Sondheim could not have imagined his opening song would be descriptive of the slapdash façade of parliamentary procedure exhibited by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (Justice Committee) last month. But, for the nine December sitting days that closed out Canada’s Parliament in 2020, it was.
In the 1966 movie of the same name, Zero Mostel as Pseudolus introduces the central characters to the audience while singing Sondheim’s ‘Comedy Tonight’ as prologue. Pseudolus, a Latin name meaning liar, gave voice to words that proffer unfortunate and apt description to what took place at the Justice Committee’s study of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy). The initial verses of Pseudolus’ introductory ditty suggest the behind-the-scenes chicanery that would follow in a performance contrived around, and dependent upon, the audience’s expectation of the usual, used as the underpinning for deception.
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!
Second reading passage of Bill C-6 in the House of Commons initiated the familiar process of referring a bill designed to amend the Criminal Code to the Justice Committee for study and review. The process ordinarily involves hearing witnesses, as well as receiving and reviewing written submissions from Canadian individuals and organizations with an interest in the legislation. Because of the parliamentary calendar’s configuration, such a study might take months.
But something peculiar happened between Bill C-6 being referred on October 28 and the Justice Committee’s report back to the House of Commons a short six weeks later.
While other committees have been tangled up in filibusters and procedural wrangling, the Justice Committee managed a remarkable six week period in which it completed studies on two pieces of life-and-death influencing criminal legislation.
First, the committee prioritized Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) (MAiD). Despite its own legislatively imposed parliamentary review process for MAiD to be completed by June 2021, the Trudeau Government chose to saddle itself with submitting to court-imposed deadlines rather than appeal the decision of a single judge of the Superior Court of Quebec in Truchon c. Procureur général du Canada. The Government could have justifiably used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ‘notwithstanding clause’ (s. 33) to provide a healthy timeline for comprehensive deliberation on their own 2016 legislation, including judicious revision as needed to the MAiD law. But the Government opted to bow to the court – one judge – rather than exert parliamentary authority.
There were three-and-a-half hectic weeks of hearings on MAiD, including sitting during a break week. 68 witnesses were heard and 108 written briefs submitted.
Next up for the Justice Committee was Bill C-6 (conversion therapy).
The committee held three two-hour public hearings, starting December 1. The first two hours were dedicated to government officials and the public proponents who advocated for introduction of the bill. Subsequent witnesses were given five minutes each, making presentation in mixed assemblages of those in agreement and those seeking amendment, followed by limited questioning by committee members.
In addition to hearing witnesses, the committee established a December 6 deadline for written submissions.
290 written submissions were received by the deadline.
A quick review of the individuals and groups making submissions suggests the subject matter of C-6 was of interest to millions of Canadians. Because the committee decided to hear from only 32 witnesses, the opportunity for written submission was particularly appealing.
Due to parliamentary requirements, written submissions are not provided to committee members until they are available in both official languages. Once translated and available in English and French, submissions were posted on the parliamentary website ourcommons.ca and emailed to members of the Justice Committee.
30 of the 290 briefs received were translated, posted and emailed prior to December 6. 260 additional briefs remained queued for translation. Puzzlingly, four days after the submission deadline, the committee decided to finalize its report to the House of Commons.
That’s when the appealing ―i.e. the opportunity to make written submission for consideration― was transitioned by the peculiar action of the Justice Committee into the appalling. A majority of the committee decided to issue a final report on C-6 prior to it being logistically imaginable members could have considered roughly 220 of the 290 submissions made by Canadians.
Members of the Justice Committee knew three-quarters of written submissions were outstanding, awaiting translation. There was no imposed deadline for completing the study. Still, the report was finalized December 10 and tabled in the House of Commons December 11.
Technically, parliamentary procedure was observed. But it was most unparliamentary in practice.
In this minority Parliament, the Justice Committee is composed of twelve Members of Parliament (MPs): six Liberal MPs, including the chair; four Conservative MPs; one New Democrat MP; and, one Bloc Quebecois MP.
The December 10 fourth and final meeting for the committee’s study on C-6 heard briefly from select government officials and was then used to prepare and vote on the brief final report, delivered the next day to the House of Commons.
Do you think those twelve MPs, elected to represent Canadians, read the 151 submissions posted December 9? 106 of them were not available until after 4:00pm.
Do you think those MPs glanced at the 27 submissions posted December 10, 5 after the committee finalized its report?
We can be quite certain they didn’t get to the 40 submissions posted in the days after the report on Bill C-6 was presented to the House on December 11.
Why the rush? It was the Justice Committee members who set the December 6 final date for submissions. Some members requested the committee hold off reporting until after Parliament’s scheduled return in the last week of January 2021 because of the substantial number still in the translation process. The motion to do so was defeated by the Liberal and NDP members of the committee.
Why would a majority of Justice Committee members push to complete their report after little more than six hours of hearings, and the day before the five week parliamentary break? Five weeks, rather than four days, would have given translators time to complete their work (the last translated brief was posted December 17), and MPs opportunity to at least skim the thoughts prepared and presented by constituents nationwide.
Here are a few paragraphs from one of the briefs that was made available to MPs at 7:22 a.m. on December 10, the day the committee’s report was unexpectedly finalized.
This committee, the Parliament of Canada, and the government are encouraged to do what each says it does and desires to do. Listen to Canadians. Then, act accordingly within the constitutional authority of Parliament to provide leadership and good governance.
The Constitution Act,1867, section 91, gives the federal government, with the advice and consent of Parliament, broad powers in regard to matters of national concern based on the provision to “make laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada” (POGG).
The governance concept of peace, order, and good government pre-dates our constitution, and is found in constitutions of former British colonies around the world. The POGG obligation has long been understood as vital for responsible government.
In his 1988 book Foolishness to the Greeks, Lesslie Newbigin, commenting on Augustine’s early fifth century A.D. Christian classic The City of God, summarizes thoughts about good government for a peaceful and ordered society:
But peace is only possible when there is order, and order depends on proper government; but government in which one is sub-ordinated to another is only right if the one who is called to govern does so for the sake of those he governs—as their servant.
Good government requires providing sound structure to Canadian society, protection and support for individual Canadians and the institutions of society, and continual establishment of conditions for personal and societal flourishing. Wisdom and fairness are expected from our government and all parliamentarians, acting with regard for the well-being of all Canadians.
Here are a few of the 220 ignored submissions, generated by Canadians from coast to coast to coast: PFLAG Canada (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays); Canadian Centre for Christian Charities; Canadian Association of Social Workers; Women’s Human Rights Campaign (chapters from: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C. and Yukon); Pride Therapy Network of Montreal; Parents as First Educators; Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project; The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada; YWCA Canada; Children’s Aid Society of Toronto; International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice; International Pastors and Leaders Forum; Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador; Associated Gospel Churches; Christian Legal Fellowship; Pour les droits des femmes du Québec; Free to Care; Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity; Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms; LGB Alliance Canada; Nanaimo Pride Society; and, nearly 200 more from individuals and organizations.
Parliamentary traditions and procedures are intended to protect the common person (hence House of Commons) from capricious acts of unconstrained, absolute rulers, as kings were in the days before parliaments. MPs, the elected representatives of Canadians, are responsible to deliberate on legislative action with the intent of serving the common good of all Canadians, accountable to the people to do so. Uncharacteristic of MPs and Senators I have known, members of the Justice Committee here generally disregarded tradition and procedure.
Will the House of Commons do the right thing and send Bill C-6 back to the Justice Committee to complete its study with integrity, to do justice to the efforts of Canadians? Disappointedly, we shouldn’t expect so. Instead, C-6 will likely pass Third Reading and head to the Senate.
The Senate of Canada is often described as the parliamentary chamber of sober second thought, where legislative proposals are to receive careful consideration before becoming law. Canadians were noticeably intent on communicating with parliamentarians about this bill. Hopefully when Bill C-6 arrives senators will provide what a cadre of MPs did not, the sober first thought Canadian voices deserve in the people’s Parliament.
In the absence of kings and crowns, to return to Sondheim’s lyrics, I leave it for you to form your own opinion about whether the report tabled in the House of Commons by the Justice Committee fits the description of having perhaps been hastily composed by lovers, liars and clowns. From the evidence, we know most in this group of MPs were not interested in giving even the appearance of consideration to the expressed concerns and contemplations of the people who elected them.
As the work of the Justice Committee played out, the audience caught a disillusioning glimpse behind the curtain of Canada’s 43rd Parliament. The comic nature of requesting written submissions and then completing a final report before allotting time to even give the pretext of considering those submissions is not a comedy. Unlike Sondheim’s musical, this deception is a tragedy.