Conscience rights denied by court

OTTAWA – The Federal Court has ruled that a Public Service Alliance of Canada member does not have the right to divert her dues because of the union’s strong support for same-sex “marriage.” Susan Comstock, a devout Catholic and senior public servant in Toronto, argued her freedom of religion and freedom of conscience rights were violated by having to pay $800 a year to the PSAC. But the court posited that the fact Comstock opposed the union’s political or social causes “does not force her to act in a way contrary to her beliefs or her conscience.”

No changes to prostitution laws

OTTAWA – Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has announced that the decriminalization of prostitution is off the table for the Conservative government. “This government condemns any conduct that results in exploitation or abuse and, accordingly, does not support any reforms, such as decriminalization, that would facilitate such exploitation,” said Nicholson. His statement came following a December 2006 report of a justice sub-committee, which concluded sex between two consenting adults should not be illegal, whether or not payment is involved.Questions surround HPV vaccine

OTTAWA – Critics are questioning the effectiveness and longevity of a vaccine against human papillomavirus that is being recommended for girls aged nine and up. “Long-term questions … appear to have been ignored in this recommendation,” said Ryan Melnychuk of Dalhousie University’s department of bioethics. The federal government has pledged $300 million for HPV vaccine funding. Dr. Diane Harper of the Dartmouth, N.S. Medical Centre said although the vaccine’s safety data thus far is reassuring, “no safety is really ever completely known until after millions and millions of doses have been given and lives lived.”
Assisted suicide doctor suspended

VERNON, B.C. – A doctor who pleaded guilty to trying to help a patient commit suicide has agreed to stop practising medicine while the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. investigates his conduct. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Sharma had unsuccessfully tried to assist 92-year-old Ruth Wolfe to commit suicide last spring. Staff at the residential care facility in which Wolfe lived managed to intervene, however, and she survived.