Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Despite Social Media Bans, QAnon Is Reaching Across Canada’s Extreme And Fringe Movements

    I’ve been a fanboi of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network since they first exploded onto the scene with a string of exposés unmasking some of Canada’s most virulent neo-Nazis. Now they’re following through on one of their early promises to be more than just an investigation team reacting to hate across Canada, but rather to become a proactive research organization, sussing out patterns of hate in Canada before they inevitably degenerate into violence. This is the first report I’ve seen (maybe not the first; it’s possible I missed some earlier research reports) that shows that promise bearing fruit. What we get is a detailed story of how QAnon came to Canada. Now, I’ve featured several items in Weekly Update over the past months that cover what QAnon is, how it came to be, and what its influence is how and that spread… but thus far, while several of the items have explained that there is a Canadian face of the Q conspiracy, and even named some names, none of actually gone into the dirt of how Q really took root specifically in Canada. Obviously this article massive simplifies the story – the full truth is a ghastly mess of disparate weirdos (islamophobes, anti-government nutters, climate change denialists, straight-up neo-Nazis) forming strange, unspoken, and shaky alliances of opportunity, splintering over often-petty disputes, then allying again. But if you want even a cursory understanding of how a conspiracy-laden pseudo-religion that hails Donald Trump as its messiah can find a foothold in Canada, this article is a great start.

  • [] Anti-gay street preacher charged for allegedly breaking Vancouver man’s leg

    Nice. For those who’ve forgotten the incident: A couple months back, hate preacher Dorre Love was barking out the usual “Christian love” bullshit over loudspeakers in Vancouver’s West End. For context, the West End is the Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ heart and soul, so you can imagine how welcome Love’s amplified homophobia was. One resident, Justin Morissette, decided to step up and tell them off, and a scuffle ensued when Morissette managed to snatch Love’s microphone… a scuffle which ended with the follows of Jesus “turn the other cheek” Christ breaking multiple bones in Morissette’s leg. Now, there’s a lot to criticize Vancouver police for throughout this whole affair, but they did manage to at least partially do their jobs, and now Love is charged for the attack. And not just for assault, but for aggravated assault, so Love is looking at up to 14 years in prison (although, realistically speaking, since there was no weapon involved and because Morissette was an enthusiastic participant in the fight, don’t be surprised if the sentence is much lighter, like, say, only a year).

  • [] Quebec tables legislation to outlaw conversion therapies

    I’m well aware that there is an insidious amount of politicking behind this, but, still… not bad, Québec. Okay, you might be wondering about the politicking… well, first of all, as actually mentioned in another item this very week, there is a federal conversion therapy ban baking in the oven – more on that in the other item. So, Québec doesn’t really need to do this… but it’s a trivial and easy win, because conversion therapy bans are overwhelmingly supported across Canada. Also, if you were paying attention, this is the second conversion therapy ban bill in Québec in as many months. What happened to the previous one? Well, simply put, that bill was tabled by a Liberal (Québec Liberal Party MLA Jennifer Maccarone), so the CAQ simply used their majority to destroy it… then a few weeks later, they introduced their own. That way they get to claim credit for the idea (even though the Liberals were there first). Meh, whatever, I don’t care – it’s not like I’m going to weep for the Liberals. And actually, the CAQ’s version is arguably much better; it not only outlaws conversion therapy for minors, it outlaws it for everyone, and even if it’s done for free. Now, will that actually hold water in court? I’m actually not sure, but again… meh. We’re (almost certainly) getting a federal ban in a couple months, and in any case, if any conversion therapy stans want to actually take the law to court, by all means, let them soak up the costs and publicity that will come along with that.

  • [] Voting while God is watching – does having churches as polling stations sway the ballot?

    I was disturbed to discover that in the 2018 Ontario general election, my regular polling location had been moved from a (secular) public high school, to a Catholic school. It was literally the first time I had ever set foot in a Catholic school in Canada. As I walked in, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable under the judgmental glares of the dour-faced Jesuses that seemed to fill every wall and corner. And, of course, I was also weighed down by the knowledge that the building around me was the physical manifestation of a philosophy of intolerance and dehumanization, and part of a network that had raped and abused children, women, and virtually any vulnerable person that ever crossed their threshold. Of course, I don’t think any of this actually affected me to the point that it impacted my vote: I knew exactly who I wanted to vote for before I walked in there in both the provincial and municipal elections. But the experience showed me just how much of an impact the location can have. And remember, I’m neither a recovering Catholic nor particularly LGBTQ2S+ nor an abuse survivor or any other such thing that would make the experience particularly personal or traumatizing; I can’t imagine how someone like that might feel in the same situation. So I can see how voting while surrounded by religious iconography could have a very real impact on an individual voter. Should we care? And should we care enough to demand that voting locations be secular? But on the other hand, some religious spaces – like Catholic schools in Ontario – are public property, and those that aren’t – like churches – are usually tax-free, so shouldn’t we get some use out of them? I don’t have the answers; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • [] How conspiracies like QAnon are slowly creeping into some Canadian churches

    I’m actually mildly surprised at how seriously Canadian media institutions are taking the “QAnon” phenomenon… and ever-so-slightly more surprised that even Canadian churches are nervous. The reason I find that interesting is because QAnon poses no real direct threat to churches themselves. The “threat” QAnon poses to (most) churches is only that it does a really wonderful job of making faith and religion in general look absolutely nutty, which, of course, is bad for churches in the long run. But there have always been wacko(-er) strains of religion, and churches have historically just turned up their noses and pretended they were above all that plebe-y shit. I am somewhat amused to see that the way the interviewed pastors condemned the conspiracy boiled down to calling it a replacement religion or heresy. “No, no, see, that bullshit is bad, unlike our bullshit.”

  • [] Tories Move To Tweak Liberal Conversion Therapy Bill Amid Caucus Divisions

    Oof, I would not want to be Erin O’Toole right now. (I mean, I wouldn’t want to be him ever; I dig my humanity.) What a pickle to be in. See, O’Toole owes his allegiance to the extreme social conservative base of the party; they’re the ones who ultimately boosted him over Peter MacKay for the leadership victory. Which… is a real problem now that a conversion therapy ban bill is on the table in front of him – one that is wildly popular (it passed its first reading 308-7). If he opposes the bill… well, that would be revealing his “power level”, as the bigots like to say. So he has to do the ol’ “I’ll leave it to MPsconscience” play. Fair enough, but of course, that opens the door to the nutters. (Incidentally, there’s a similar dilemma for O’Toole with the assisted dying bill.) So now we’re facing the possibility that the bill may be held up while completely bullshit, completely unnecessary additional wording gets argued. And it is complete bullshit: the “concerns” that Conservative MPs are raising are absurd, like Derek Sloan saying the bill would turn parents who answer questions about their child’s sexuality into criminals. That’s as ridiculous as claiming that a bill banning genital mutilation would criminalize parents who dared discuss the birds and the bees. (Sloan also said the bill would criminalize prayer, as if you needed further evidence that the dude’s head is way up his ass.) Though this may delay the bill a bit, I can’t see that it will block it, or make any substantive changes. The Conservatives don’t really have all that much political capital to spare, and even if they did, this is exactly the kind of bill the Liberals would love to have them waste it on. So don’t panic; we’re almost assured to have a federal conversion therapy ban before too long.

  • [] New lawsuit alleges Catholic priest and teacher raped 6-year-old B.C. boy in the 70s

    Ugh, I really hate it when yet another item like this comes down the tubes. The scale of the abuse is beyond criminal, and each new story like this is the story of another person who’s suffered enormously. It just breaks my heart, every time.

  • [] Cambridge Analytica Offered Kellie Leitch a Plan to Use Data About Canadians Who Visit Far-Right News Sites

    Don’t worry, Leitch is not coming back. Thankfully, she got the message loud and clear that her brand of racist and xenophobic bullshit was not welcome in Canada (unlike some people we could mention *cough*Maxime Bernier*cough*). (Amusingly, I just learned she apparently fled to Mississippi after her embarrassing political defeat here. I mean… yeah. That squares.) No, this story is actually about something that happened back in 2017, that we’re just now learning about because of a subpoena in a case against the Trump campaign (like, one of many, many cases). We already knew well before the election results that Leitch’s apparent popularity and reach far outstripped any real interest in her racist platform, even among decidedly racist Conservative voters. We knew about the shady way that the Rebel Media sold its congregation to her campaign. But until now we had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole went, and just how massive, interconnected, and well-financed the far-right machine is/was. It really shines a light on how nobodies like Leitch and Bernier – whom nobody really likes, as the election results inevitably show – still manage to have such an outsized impact in Canadian politics. We should be wary of this in future elections.

  • [] McVety’s Canada Christian College Served As Voting Premise For PC Party Leadership Race

    Oh, wow, I thought this story was a dirty enough scandal already; now it looks like it might actually be criminal. Phew. Okay, so here’s the context. The Ford government of Ontario tabled a bill recently that was ostensibly aimed at helping small businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis by removing some bureaucratic red tape. But hidden deep within the bill were some weird sections that allowed three very Christian colleges – Redeemer College, Tyndale College, and Charles McVety’s own Canada Christian College – to become full-fledged universities, and to issue degrees. The problem with that is that it came as a complete surprise to the provincial educational quality assessment board… ya know, the people whose job it is to decide whether a college actually meets the academic requirements to become a university. (I’ve heard whispers that several people allegedly connected to the board have been saying, off the record, that there isn’t a chance in hell that any of those three colleges would actually meet the standards. But this is all scuttlebutt; I can’t confirm any of it.) And of course, there’s the icky issue of McVety’s flagrant homophobia, which is very much reflected in his college’s rules. All very bad, but fairly typical cronyism for Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives. What’s new is the revelations about very inappropriate, and possibly illegal, entanglements between McVety, because, you see, Canada Christian College is a registered charity, and as such is not allowed to have any partisan political affiliations. And it claimed it did not in its tax filings. Now, because the College was only involved in a party leadership “election” and not an actual election, it’s… technically… not “partisan”… because you’re not really helping the Conservatives over the Liberals (or NDP or other political opponent), you’re just helping the Conservatives within their own house… so there is some question over whether it would count as actually illegal. Still, even if it doesn’t count as illegal (and I sure think it would), it’s downright unethical. Funny how you don’t see any of the people screaming about the WE scandal speaking up about this.

  • [] Quebec Activist Marwa Khanafer Wears A Hijab And Walks A Social Tightrope

    It’s easy for most Canadian atheists to put out of our minds, but Québec’s very racist Bill 21 is still a thing. It, and the systemic and cultural racism that birthed it, are still every day life for tens of thousands of Québécois. So what do the people fighting Bill 21 look like? What is their experience like? Judging from what some supporters have said, they imagine the opponents of the bill are all regressive religious extremists, whose motivation for fighting the bill stems only from their own selfish desire to defy “modernity”, and flaunt their affiliation to barbaric, belligerent, bronze-age tribal cultures. But is that really so? It’s certainly not what I’ve seen when I’ve talked to opponents of Bill 21. But judge for yourself; this article offers one such case (and a video with several more at the end). I should note that, by contrast, again judging from what the same supporters mentioned above, the supporters of Bill 21 tend to be pretty uniformly white, and… pretty racist. Don’t believe me? Well, then find a counter example.

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6 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. This dates back to October 1015 when some religious scumbags at the Oakville Harvest Bible Chapel were going indulge in some illicit proselytism during the last Federal election when their church was being used as a polling station.

    They took the web link down lickety-split because while it’s OK to lie for baby jebus you sure don’t want to be revealed for the hypocritical assholes that you actually are.

    File 505927

    We thank you for your message of October 9, 2015 regarding Election Day activities at the Harvest Bible Chapel’s polling station location.

    Elections Canada has spoken to the person in charge of the polling station, who has in turn informed church authorities that they may not interfere with the voting process on Election Day and may not use the electoral event as an opportunity to solicit for donations or participation in church activities.

    It was agreed that the church staff may host activities on Election Day but will not be near the polling station located in this large church complex.

    As well, church authorities have taken down the portion of their website which was using the Elections Canada logo and promoting activities at the church on Elections Day.

    Elections Canada

    COMPLAINT: The polling station at HARVEST BIBLE CHAPEL, 500 GREAT LAKES BLVD, OAKVILLE, ON L6L 6X9, is asking for volunteers to to accost voters and coerce them into “tours of our church” and providing support for their religious activities per this link:

    http://www.harvestoakville.ca/serve-at-the-election-polling-station/

    This is a blatant and cynical violation for the Elections act and this activity needs to be stopped before election day. There are many Oakville residents who are not christian or not religious at all and would be insulted and intimidated by this proselytizing. My preference would be that the polling station be moved out of the church and into a secular venue since our christian friends at HARVEST BIBLE CHAPEL apparently believe themselves to be above the law (they seem to not be familiar with Matthew 22:21 ” Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”).

    • That would be October 2015 of course.

      • Yikes, yeah, that’s nothing like what happened in my case. As far as I know there were no Catholic troublemakers even in the area; everyone either looked like a voter or a legit poll worker doing legit stuff.

        On the other hand, my experience was at a Catholic school. That’s technically still public property (though it shouldn’t be), and the teachers, while technically Catholic, are generally going to be teachers-first-preachers-second (or never). But a church?! Oh, hells no, that should absolutely not be allowed. In the extreme situation where the only possible voting location is a church, then once the church agrees to being the venue, no-one from their staff should be allowed to work at the polling station (except maybe one person just to help unlock doors and find stuff like outlets, and oversee that nothing of the church’s gets damaged or stolen).

        But frankly, Elections Canada should prefer just about anything, like asking a store to clear out their sales floor for the day, before asking a church.

  2. What a blast from the past, digging through my EMAIL archives (more like a landfill site) I find:

    File No. 505921

    Dear MR. STEPHEN OBERSKI,

    Thank you for your recent submission to Elections Canada in which you bring to our attention your concerns regarding the promotion of a cause unrelated to the electoral process, by representatives at the Harvest Bible Church. Please allow us this opportunity to respond to your concerns.

    The Returning Officer for your electoral district of OAKVILLE, Mr. Surinder Sharma, has been in contact with the membership at the Harvest Bible Church, specifically, with Reverend McFarland, and has been reassured that the church will not engage in any activity that is prohibited under the Canada Elections Act. Furthermore, the church website has been updated to remove any reference to Elections Canada.

    With regards to your suggestion that a venue other than a religious building be used for the purposes of the electoral process, Elections Canada provides selection criteria such as level access, parking and geographical location, the responsibility of choosing polling sites ultimately rests with the Returning Officer, who possesses local knowledge of the electoral district. The final choice is made once the writ is issued, depending on availability and with the aim of maximizing convenience for electors. As public buildings that meet Election Canada requirements in terms of accessibility, religious buildings, schools and community centers are often used as voting facilities.

    Please note that returning officers are encouraged, if using a religious facility as a polling site for either the advance polling days or the regular polling day, to use a non-religious polling location for the other. However, it is not always possible due to availability of adequate and accessible public buildings available in the area.

    We trust this addresses your concerns. We appreciate your vigilance and your interest in ensuring the electoral process remains fair for all members of the electorate.

    Best Regards,

    Agent RobA

    Unité de Gestions des plaintes │ Complaints Management Unit
    Élections Canada │Elections Canada

    Going out on a limb here, but I suspect that neither the Returning Officer for my electoral district, Mr. Surinder Sharma, nor the Elections Canada agent who responded, Robi Ahmad, where christian, so that must have made for an interesting conversation between them and McFarland of the church.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall …

    My wife acted as a Poll Clerk in the last federal election, and this is something that I recommend that all citizens do at least once, it offers a fascinating glimpse into how our electoral system works, and I have to say based on my limited and not first person experience, it works very well indeed.

  3. When Elections Canada uses a venue for voting day, do they pay the venue? Similarly, provincial and municipal governments. And political parties…

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