Weekly Update: 11-Dec-2021 to 17-Dec-2021

by | December 18, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

This week’s items

[] Legislative Prayer Across Canada

This is an update of a very handy infographic put together by the British Columbia Humanist Association, giving an overview of which Canadian legislatures still open with a prayer. It’s based on their Legislative Prayer across Canada report, which is linked to with the infographic.

It looks like the only change from the original is that Nova Scotia has ceased doing the Lord’s Prayer, and has changed to a moment of silent reflection, which is awesome. (CA reported on the Nova Scotia legislature’s change back when it happened, of course.) So, by my estimate:

  • 7 provinces, all 3 territories, and the federal legislature all open with prayers.
  • 5 provinces, 1 territory, and the feds require “standard” prayers of some sort. 4 provinces and 1 territory (Yukon) do only the “standard” prayer.
  • 3 provinces do specifically Christian prayers. All 3 do the Lord’s Prayer.
    • New Brunswick and PEI add other explicitly Christian prayers as well.
    • Ontario adds an additional prayer that may be Christian, but may be from other faiths, or “non-denominational”, or “secular”, according to a preset schedule. I haven’t had the time or interest to find out what the actual schedule they use is, so I don’t know exactly which faiths (and non-faiths) are represented, or how.

In addition, there are the legislatures that do not require prayers… but allow them in one form or another. This allows members to make non-religious, “secular invocations”, if they wish:

  • 2 provinces and 2 territories allow members of the legislature to deliver arbitrary “prayers”
    • Alberta allows only the Speaker to deliver an arbitrary prayer of their choice.
    • BC has a selection of “standard” prayers, but MLAs may substitute their own.

Which means that only 3 provinces:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia (since October!); and
  • Québec

are the only legislatures across Canada that do not open with a prayer.

[] Ontario Education Minister Discussed Childcare With a Religious Lobby Group That Likened Public Childcare to ‘Misogyny’

With all the shenanigans going on in the prairies, it’s easy to forget that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is just as beholden to its social conservative base as Kenney or Moe is.

The group the article’s title is referring to is Cardus. And if you’re not familiar with Cardus or why it’s so horrible, the PressProgress article very helpfully gives you a bullet list of some of the lowlights. They’re homophobic, anti-vax, misogynist—their definition of “misogyny”, as referred to in the article title, is about efforts that allow women to get out of the kitchen and stop being baby factories… in their minds, that’s “anti-woman” because it is “anti-what-they-think-women-should-be”. That is the basis for their objection to public childcare funding; they think it’s “bad” that women are working and not staying home raising the kids.

Naturally, Lecce’s defence for his decision to talk to a group pushing regressive policies is that he was “respecting choice”. I can’t fathom why the far-right thinks this framing is in anyway intelligent or sensible. Cardus is literally trying to prevent choice. If they really wanted to give families choice, then it would support more childcare options; those families that want to do things Cardus’s way, and keep the woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, can always simply not use the public childcare option.

[] Toronto adopts motion to fund Bill 21 fight

Wow, I’m kinda surprised by how this took off.

So, in last week’s Update, one of the items was the story of a Québec teacher who—through no fault of her own—was manoeuvred into a position where she was forced to give up teaching (directly) because she wears a hijab. It was a depressing story of the systemic stupidity and injustice that follows from Québec’s discriminatory Bill 21.

That story really caught the nation’s attention. And not only did it become a hot topic of discussion, some groups have actually stepped up to do something about it.

The first was Brampton, Ontario—whose mayor is Patrick Brown, who might have been the premier of Ontario rather than Doug Ford, if not for some sexual shenanigans (which, to be fair, may have been overblown, and he may have been railroaded out of the provincial Conservative party by the hard-line social conservative bloc… there’s still a lot that’s unclear about what really happened). Brampton city council voted to donate $100,000 to the groups fighting Bill 21 in court.

Following that, as this item’s article reports, Toronto city council voted to do the same.

And, apparently, Winnipeg is considering following suit.

At the federal level, Jagmeet Singh has reversed his previous position, and now supports federal intervention. Erin O’Toole doesn’t seem to have changed his mind; he previously asserted he would not intervene, and as far as it is possible to decode his vague politician-speak, it seems like that is still his position, though some members of his party are taking a more principle stand. Justin Trudeau is characteristically unprincipled and noncommittal, making all the noises about how unjust Bill 21 is, yet not promising to intervene… except maybe he will intervene; it probably all depends on how hard the political winds are blowing on a given day.

To be balanced, I suppose I should report on what Bill 21 supporters are saying about all this… but, frankly, they’re not really saying much of anything. It’s just the usual “non-Québécois should not criticize what Québec does”… which is rank bullshit, because non-X can always criticize a nation X for human rights violations, for any value of X. I note that Québécois who spout this line have no trouble criticizing, say, Saudi Arabia, for its human rights violations.

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