Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
This week’s items
This should have been a very busy week for Weekly Update, with a ton of stories to report on. It was World Interfaith Harmony Week. Also, Tuesday was World Hijab Day. And, most notably of all, January 29th was the first National Day of Action Against Islamophobia after the day was designated last year, on the fourth anniversary of the Québec mosque massacre.
So that would make it five years, last Saturday, since the massacre of six Muslims by a Trump-inspired lunatic who objected to the Trudeau government, which you would think would be a pretty big news story. However, it was drowned out… by the coverage of a convoy of Trump-inspired lunatics who object to the Trudeau government. Which, honestly… I mean, yeah, the irony kinda points itself out.
Anywho, you may not have heard amidst the news media masturbating over a bunch of swastika-totin’ truckers, but quite a bit happened on the front of the fight against islamophobia. Winnipeg city council had originally voted (unanimously) to donate $100,000 to the fight against Bill 21… but after they couldn’t find the money in their budget, they scaled back a bit. Now they’re giving $20,000 out of the mayor’s personal budget, and a couple of councillors are also chipping in with their own private cash.
This coming week, London (Ontario) is going to consider the recommendations of a report on islamophobia that was commissioned after the murder of the Afzaal family last June. The headline item is a proposed permanent memorial to the four victims. But in my opinion, the more interesting proposal is “beefing up” the city’s nuisance bylaws, so that harassment of Muslims, immigrants, or newcomers can result in charges, and, presumably, fines.
Finally, as the article this item references mentions, the federal government is creating an islamophobia czar. Naturally, it’s not clear what this new appointee will actually do, or what powers they will have—there were far more substantive recommendations in the report that the feds have yet to commit to. But at least it’s something, I guess.
 Charter challenge by 2 Ontario churches opposed to public health restrictions gets underway Monday
This is, unless I’m forgetting something, the first major challenge to public health restrictions by churches in Ontario. There have been other, similar challenges in other provinces, of course. None have gone well for the churches.
And, as the expert quoted in the article mentions, it doesn’t seem likely this case will go well for the churches either. There is no argument that public health restrictions interfere with freedom of religion. But that’s not a problem in a secular state; laws are allowed to interfere with religious practice, so long as the interference can be reasonably justified. That’s the only question that needs to be addressed: is the interference justified?
Unfortunately, assuming that it is is not a slam-dunk. The problem is the relentless jerking around of public health restrictions that all provincial governments—and the feds—have engaged in. They institute lockdowns… then they roll them back… then they create limitations on the size of public gatherings… then they ease those restrictions… then they make new limitations… then change the rules again and again. So it is theoretically possible for the churches to argue that the restrictions are all bullshit; performative public policy just so the government can look like they’re doing something.
However, that seems unlikely. More likely than not, this challenge will shake out the same as the others… in a loss for the churches.