Federal legislation, Bill C51, was introduced by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on June 6, 2017. This bill clarifies certain aspects of the Criminal Code of Canada and also repeals certain sections of the Code. Unfortunately clause 14 of the bill requests to remove section 176 from the criminal code. Presently section 176 prohibits obstructing a religious leader from conducting a religious ceremony and it prohibits disturbing an assembly gathered for a religious, moral, or social purpose. The bill does not give an alternative for this section, therefore if the bill passes with clause 14 intact it would then not be illegal to obstruct a religious leader from conducting a religious ceremony or for individuals to cause a disturbance at an assembled gathering.
Thank you to Shirley Christo in Ontario for bringing this to my attention.
You will find below the related letter that Shirley sent to her MP. Shirley has given her permission for this to be sent as an example for members to use in writing their own MPs regarding this important issue.
Please send this info out to your diocesan legislation counterparts to encourage ALL members of the League to write letters.
Thank you in advance for your help in getting the word out to remove clause 14 from Bill C-51. – I realize that some of you may no longer hold the legislation chair, yet I have not been updated on the new directory. I ask that you please pass this on to the new chair. I have also blind cc’ed this to the provincial presidents so if you are a past president please forward this email to the new president.
National Chairperson of Legislation
Dear Ramesh Sangha,
I appreciate that you are representing our area of Brampton Ontario and all of the effort that you have put into your position as our MP.
I am contacting you to express my concern about clause 14 of Bill C-51 which was referred to committee on June 15, 2017.
While the rest of the bill is commendable in its cleaning up the Criminal Code, clause 14 removes an offence that is neither unconstitutional, obsolete, nor redundant. Section 176 prohibits obstructing a religious leader from conducting a religious ceremony and it prohibits disturbing an assembly gathered for a religious, moral, or social purpose.
Section 176 of the Criminal Code is valuable in its protection of assemblies from disturbances. It sends a clear message that communities should be allowed to gather for religious, social or moral purposes without fear of disruption either from individuals or disagreeing communities. In a climate where it seems like hostility to religious groups is growing, it is worth having explicit protections – which is what section 176 of the Criminal Code provides.
Are you sure that Canada’s Criminal Code provides the necessary protection from harassment for communities gathering together? I am concerned and would like to know why section 176 is being removed and ask for your support to keep it in place.
I look forward to hearing back from you .