Bill C-51 update on Federal protections for clergy and religious service
Bill C-51 is an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, tabled in the House of Commons, June 6, 2017.
Under clause 14, the Bill proposes the removal of Section 176 (1, 2, 3) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which currently makes it an indictable offense to obstruct or cause violence to an officiating clergyman or minister as well as to disturb religious worship or gatherings. (see Federal Legislation Bill C-51)
This story by Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News gives us news on one part of that...
The committee amended the omnibus bill Nov. 8, the day after the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released an open letter to the Justice Minister dated Oct. 31 from more than 60 religious leaders and groups urging the government to keep the Section 176 that protects religious leaders from being assaulted or obstructed in their work, and protects religious services from being disrupted.
“I was persuaded by the testimony of people who came before us, including His Eminence Cardinal Collins,” said Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, chair of the Justice Committee, said in an interview. Cardinal Collins testified via video conferencing on Oct. 30, along with the president of the CCCB Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and Bill Simpson, a criminal lawyer, who attended the session in Ottawa.
For more information on this issue, see the Interfaith Letter on Bill C- (Legal Protections for Religious Practices) and related stories by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and The Gospel Coalition Canada.