Quebec eliminates religious instruction in schools

QUEBEC CITY – Quebec lawmakers have quietly passed Bill 95, a law that effectively eliminates all religious instruction from public schools in the province. Religious education is to be replaced in 2008 by a course in “ethics” or “religious culture,” if desired. Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier introduced Bill 95 in May, claiming it would meet “the current social challenges and needs of Quebec youth today.” Quebec’s Catholic bishops, along with concerned parent groups, later presented a 60,000-signature petition against the change. Jocelyne St.-Cyr, a spokesperson for concerned parents, said hearings on the bill were “a façade” and charged that the education minister was not respecting democracy.

Big money for ‘hate crime’ investigations

HAMILTON – Homosexual activists celebrated at a Hamilton café owned by a homosexual as Ontario MPP Judy Marsales announced at that location there will be a $200,000 increase in provincial funding for investigations by Joint Forces Hate Crimes/Extremism Investigative Teams. The money includes $93,000 for a “hate crime analyst” who will monitor activity on the internet. Provisions will be made for a database that will have data, profiles and photographs, while the number of police regions hosting investigative teams will double from five to 10. The move comes in the wake of the passage of federal Bill C-250, which added “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes in the hate propaganda sections (318 & 319) of the Criminal Code.

House set to resume C-407 debate

OTTAWA – C-407, Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s private member’s bill that would amend the Criminal Code in order to permit euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide for “lucid” adults who request assistance in killing themselves, is set for one hour of debate, then a vote on second reading on Oct. 31. If the bill is passed, it will be sent to the justice committee for review. Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg is asking all Canadians worried about this assault on the sanctity of life and the lives of the elderly, sick, disabled and otherwise vulnerable, to contact their MPs and urge them to defeat the bill.

Complaint against Bishop Henry dropped

CALGARY – Norman Greenfield has dropped his Alberta Human Rights Tribunal complaint against Calgary Bishop Fred Henry. Greenfield argued that Bishop Henry’s letter to area Catholics condemning same-sex “marriage” and equating homosexuality to adultery, prostitution and pornography as phenomenon that undermine marriage, was offensive and demeaning to homosexuals. The Globe and Mail reported that, “Greenfield said that after listening to Bishop Henry’s explanation, he now believes he simply misunderstood.” Greenfield filed one of two complaints against the Calgary bishop – the second one remains pending.

Lewis slams U.S. over AIDS policy

TURTLE BAY, N.Y. – Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has criticized the Bush administration’s policy of emphasizing abstinence programs to fight the deadly diseases. Lewis said distributing free condoms is a vital part of any HIV/AIDS control strategy and condemned America’s “fundamentalist” ideology for condom shortages in places such as Uganda. The Bush administration, however, has praised the Ugandan approach to battling AIDS, which has used an ABC approach – abstinence, be faithful, use a condom — with an emphasis on the first two components, to bring down the country’s infection rates from 30 per cent in the 1990s to six per cent in 2004. Still, Lewis decried the allegedly U.S.-caused “distortion of the preventive apparatus” (referring to apparent condom shortages), which will “undoubtedly” result in a rise in AIDS infection rates across the continent. He called upon President George W. Bush to end the “Pentecostal-inspired dogmatic policies” that preach abstinence.