Special to The Interim

Canadian lawyers with expertise in human rights and constitutional law are urging members of Parliament to vote against the Liberal government’s anti-constitutional Bill C-38. In a letter sent to all MPs and senators April 29, and printed in part in the National Post, the lawyers cited a legal opinion provided by constitutional law experts at the law firm of Lang Michener LLP. It warned about the risk the bill poses to constitutionally protected freedoms of religion and conscience.

Lang Michener LLP was asked, in the event of Bill C-38’s passage, if there was a genuine risk that religious groups or officials who refuse to solemnize a marriage could become the target of actions by others. The answer was affirmative.

The lawyers writing to parliamentarians concluded: “There is little doubt that, if passed, Bill C-38 will be used by provincial governments and others to override the rights of conscience and religion of ordinary Canadians. Public officials will, in all likelihood, lose their employment, simply because of their conscientious convictions. It is our view that your constituents, including religious groups and the members of religious groups, will face expensive and ruinous lawsuits if Bill C-38 becomes law.”

“I concur with that assessment,” said Conservative party MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin). “The federal government has no power to protect the freedom of religious groups or officials to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with the group’s religious beliefs. The level of incompetence and irresponsibility of this Liberal government knows no bounds. They know that changing the definition of marriage puts religious liberty at risk, and they see the flagrant abuses of provincial governments against marriage commissioners in jurisdictions, such as my own province of Saskatchewan as a result of same-sex ‘marriage,’ yet they are intent on moving forward with this agenda.”

The Canadian human rights and constitutional law lawyers also highlighted the activist nature of Paul Martin and Irwin Cotler’s anti-marriage bill, pointing out that the Supreme Court reference decision imposed no obligation on the federal government to change the definition of marriage. “Canadians are still waiting for the Prime Minister to come clean as to the real agenda behind Bill C-38,” said Vellacott. “Everywhere you turn, people are exposing the foolishness of his claim that the Supreme Court and Canadian human rights law require this change.”

The letter is reprinted on page 5 of this issue of The Interim.