Petition E-1264 (DISCRIMINATION): Open for Signatories

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Doug Thomas of Secular Connexion Séculière, who I have talked with before, has done something, which I have talked with some others in the irreligious community in Canada before about: using the Freedom of Thought Report from 2016, of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, for activism in every country because it remains of the most succinct and comprehensive listings of discrimination in law, in culture, in societies generally, against the irreligious (Secular Connexion Séculière, 2017; Jacobsen, 2017; International Humanist and Ethical Union, 2016a; International Humanist and Ethical Union, 2017).

That leads to E-Petition 1264 (DISCRIMINATIONS), or simply E-Petition 1264, which is about the formal investigation into the discrimination against non-believers in Canada (House of Commons, 2017). Doug Thomas, with sponsorship from Marwan Tabbara, proposed this e-petition, which is already in the 3-figure zone for signatories and seems better than many based on a brief scan of the others surrounding it. It states in full:

“Whereas:
  • Approximately 25% of Canada’s people are non-believers; and
  • The International Humanist and Ethical Union, in its December 2016 Freedom of Thought Report, has identified Canada as a nation that systemically discriminates against non-believers.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to ask the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to investigate, through the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, with specific invitations to the national leaders of the secular humanist community, the systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canadian laws and regulations, specifically, but not limited to: (a) the National Anthems Act, 1980; (b) the Criminal Code of Canada, section 319 3(b); and (c) Regulations for registered charities under the Income Tax Act.” (Ibid.)

I signed it.

Because I know the Freedom of Thought Report (2016) provides a good introduction to the levels of discrimination against the irreligious in this country (International Humanist and Ethical Union, 2016b).

While ignoring the historical crimes in the name of Christianity, often by Canadian Christians against the Indigenous population, we have remnants with the privileges for those with a belief in a Theity in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 in the Preamble, where there is the, as many reading this know about the, statement about the “supremacy of God…” (Government of Canada, 1982). What if this was removed?

Even if symbolic, it would mean, for the next generations, formal equality with the Constitution Act of 1982 as neutral, no preference for one or the other, on a God or not. That would be fair and equal; not asking for superior but for real equality.

Another remnant is the Catholic system, often for non-Catholics as well. What about the Muslim, Daoist, and Scientologist schools for non-Muslims, non-Daoists, and non-Scientologists, even Catholics? You don’t see them. Why should we see Catholic schools, especially in the long view? Secular public educational systems and schools for all Canadians seems fair and simple too.

Do these denominational rights for Catholics, and at times Protestants, violate Section 2 and Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Yes, but Section 29 makes that a move no-no, apparently, that protection against potential action later amounts to an educational and charter privilege in the favour of one religion, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians (so, two, technically), who happen to be the mostly settler-colonial religions (International Humanist and Ethical Union, 2016b).

But we can do things about these and others such as prayers in public meetings, in schools, and so on. They were placed by Canadian citizens at one point, so they, too, can be removed. We can do the same with Canada as others have moved to secular systems for public life. The data is there. The undercurrent is there. Likely, the will is extant throughout the nation with 1/4 people having no formal religious faith and may of the other 3/4 sympathizing with the 1/4 on common issues. So, why not? The petition is simply waiting to be signed by Canadian citizens. It’s a start.

Let’s get to work!…

Together.

References

Government of Canada. (1982). Constitution Act, 1982. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html.

House of Commons. (2017, September 14). E-1264 (DISCRIMINATION). Retrieved from https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1264.

International Humanist and Ethical Union. (2017b). International Humanist and Ethical Union. Retrieved from http://iheu.org/.

International Humanist and Ethical Union. (2016a). The Freedom of Thought Report. Retrieved from http://freethoughtreport.com/countries/.

International Humanist and Ethical Union. (2016b). The Freedom of Thought Report: Canada. Retrieved from http://freethoughtreport.com/countries/americas-northern-america/canada/.

Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 6). Interview with Doug Thomas – President of the Secular Connexion Séculière. Retrieved from https://conatusnews.com/interview-doug-thomas-president-secular-connexion-seculiere/.

Secular Connexion Séculière. (2017). Secular Connexion Séculière. Retrieved from http://www.secularconnexion.ca/.

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