CCSTA applauds the federal government’s plan to keep Section 176 of the Criminal Code in place, as it ensures the protection of religious officials and the freedom to worship peacefully without disturbance.
This decision comes after the Liberal Government introduced Bill C-51, which would clean up wording or any redundant content existing within the Code. For instance, they plan to remove the provisions of setting off a stink bomb or duelling.
Though, a widespread backlash arose when the government decided to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code, which includes “obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman disturbing religious worship or certain meetings.”
This section protects religious freedoms and was used as a grounds to charge a woman earlier this year after she allegedly entered a Church in Ottawa screaming and damaged a statue.
Last week, MPs voted to save the section, though with updated language so it more clearly captures all forms of religious and spiritual services.
Last month, CCSTA Board of Directors met with Conservative Justice Shadow Minister and MP for Niagara Falls Rob Nicholson. He made a statement on Nov. 8 regarding the decision to keep it in place. He received hundreds of emails from Canadians pushing to keep it.
“I am pleased that the Government has heard the calls of Canadians from across our nation and has agreed to keep section 176 in place,” Minister Nicholson said. “The disruption of a religious service is serious and should not be treated as a mere mischief charge. It is a fundamental right that greatly affects all Canadians regardless of whether or not you attend religious services. Today is a victory for all faith communities in Canada.”
CCSTA also supports the government’s decision to maintain Section 176.
“To give a judge the ability to refer to a section of the Criminal Code that allows for the protection of clergy is an important element to religious freedom in Canada,” says CCSTA Executive Director Julian Hanlon. “We applaud the government for ensuring the protective rights of Canadians.”