About 3,500 concerned Canadians from every province gathered on Parliament Hill to protest bill C-250, which seeks to include “sexual orientation” as an identifiable factor under Canada’s hate crime legislation. Many fear the bill will mean anyone who speaks against homosexuality will risk prosecution. Opponents of the bill think that civil liberties, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, will be undermined if C-250 is passed.

Demonstrators gathered at the Supreme Court before peacefully marching to Parliament Hill, where music was followed by several speakers. Fr. Francis, a Melchite Catholic priest, said, “Bill C-250, if passed, will stifle open debate … There are many problems with Bill C-250: First, the term ‘sexual orientation’ is not defined, which then would include pedophilia. Further, the word ‘hatred’ is not adequately defined, which leads to subjective understanding of hate. Third, there is no provision in the bill for non-religious objections from anthropology, anatomy, health, or from mere personal conviction.” He said that in Sweden, where a similar bill was passed, homosexual activists promised to be in churches on Sundays to tape record the services and report any “anti-homosexual” sermons.

The president of the Christian Coalition International of Canada remarked that, “Our liberty in Canada has never been threatened so much as with Bill C-250. We live in an era of political correctness and judicial activism, and bill C-250 looks to strip away our constitutional rights.”

Dr. Edmund F. Bloedow, a professor from the University of Ottawa, asserted that the bill is redundant and unnecessary. Sections 22, 718, and 810 of the Criminal Code already protect all Canadians from assault. He also affirmed that the bill is dangerous and illustrated his point with the example of the Catholic school board that was forced by the court to allow Marc Hall to bring his boyfriend to a prom. He also presented the example of Chris Kempling, a B.C. teacher who wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper disagreeing with homosexuality and was subsequently suspended from teaching.

Pastor Dominic Tse, representing the Chinese community church in Toronto, said, “We have a long history of oppressive regimes. We know what it’s like to not have freedom. We are here because we love to breathe the fresh air of Canada. We want to keep Canada free for our children and grandchildren.”

Tse added: “Many of us have experienced living in communist China. Bill C-250 would be the beginning of freedom’s ending in Canada. Freedom of religion is the foundation of any other freedom. Freedom of speech gives us creativity and innovation. Senators, MPs, do not pass this bill for Canada’s sake. Let’s keep Canada glorious and free.”

John Pacheco, the organizer of the rally, declared, “We are not here because of hate, we are here because of love – love for democracy, love for freedom, love for our country, and yes, love for our opponents. But love doesn’t always say, ‘yes.’ It must sometimes say ‘no.’ We are going to stand on guard for Canada.”

Pacheco encouraged Canadians to contact senators to urge the defeat of C-250, as well as to pray and fast for the defeat of the bill.

The only member of Parliament to address the approximately 3,500 people in attendance was Cheryl Gallant (Conservative, Renfrew-Nippissing). “This country was founded by religious principles. The proponent of this bill wants to silence those who disagree with him,” she said.

The final speaker was Scott Brockie, owner of Imaging Excellence, a printing company in Mississauga, Ont. After a seven-year legal battle that has gone before the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the courts following his 1996 refusal to print material for the Lesbian and Gay Archive, Brockie has legal costs totalling $200,000.

Brockie strongly encourages those gathered to get involved in the culture. He said, “The iron law of democratic politics is that those who choose not to become involved in politics will be governed by those who do. Get involved with the school board, school councils, run for government, for school board trustee, write letters to your local newspaper. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘The philosophy in the classroom in one generation is the philosophy in government in the next.'”