AFT expresses its opposition to the “National Action Plan on Combatting Hate” announced by the federal government. The plan poses several serious difficulties.
“[…] this government has a duty to repeal the religious exception 319(3)b) in existing legislation. It must also stop sowing confusion by blurring the distinctions between emotions and actions and between race and religion.”
LPA-AFT welcomes with enthusiasm and relief yesterday’s announcement by Minister Jean-François Roberge of the new Culture and Citizenship of Quebec (CCQ) program which will replace the current Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program in Quebec schools.
[…]religious affiliation will no longer be presented as the most important aspect of the identity of each individual, as is the case in the current ERC,[…] citizenship instead will be emphasized[…].
LPA-AFT denounces the categorically pro-religious nature of the judgment rendered on 20th April 2021 by Justice Marc-André Blanchard of Quebec Superior Court.
Indeed, the judgment declares Bill 21 inoperative in Quebec’s English-speaking schools by virtue of the language rights of this minority set out in section 23 of the Canadian Charter […], depriving English-speaking children of the secular protection offered by Bill 21. In addition, the judgment removes the ban on sitting Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) wearing face coverings, on the pretext that this would violate the right to vote set out in Article 3 of the Charter. Thus, the judge would allow an MNA wearing a niqab to sit in the Assembly! Even worse, he would allow a teacher to wear the niqab in front of her students, when teaching.
AFT denounces the decision by CBC management to allow Toronto journalist Ginella Massa to wear the Islamic veil, the hijab, while on the air hosting the news program Canada Tonight, for three principal reasons […]
Atheist Freethinkers’ arguments will be centred on the primacy of freedom of conscience which precedes freedom of religion […] LPA-AFT will also argue the important distinction between freedom of belief and the right to express that belief in civic space, that is to say, in State institutions.
As atheists, we welcome the objective, expressed through Bill 21, to end certain religious privileges. […]
LPA-AFT will intervene in the case of I. N. HAK et al. against the Attorney-General of Quebec. The organization’s request to intervene as friend was recently approved by the Quebec Superior Court. The proceedings are scheduled for November 2nd through December 7th at the Montreal Palais de Justice.
LPA-AFT’s argumentation will centre on the primacy of freedom of conscience, which include both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
LPA-AFT announces that it will be seeking permission to intevene as a friend before the courts in the case I. N. HAK et al. versus the Attorney-General of Québec.
“As secularists, we have a duty to do everything in our power to ensure that this law is neither repealed nor weakened by the adversaries of fundamental freedoms and of secularism, because the Act helps to protect everyone’s freedom of conscience.”
LPA-AFT denounces the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the Ontario legislature’s motion against Quebec Bill 21
LPA-AFT denounces the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the Ontario legislature in adopting unanimously, on November 25th, a motion condemning Quebec Bill 21, i.e. An Act respecting the laicity of the State, adopted by the duly elected government of Quebec and strongly supported by the Quebec population. The motion even proposes that Ontario participate in legal challenges to the Bill. The act of thus interfering in the internal affairs of another province is unjust in and of itself, but this is only one aspect among several which make this motion utterly unacceptable.
…Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, alleg[es] that Bill 21 is discriminatory and that it undermines religious freedom, even that it is a form of racism. Horwath’s assertions are blatantly hypocritical. First of all, Bill 21 protects users of public services and students in public schools by requiring that public servants in positions of authority as well as teachers be religiously neutral. Thus, those State employee are not allowed to indulge in religious advertising, i.e. passive proselytism, which would undermine the freedom of conscience of users and students.…
AFT thus denounces this privilege granted to a person, allowing her to keep her head-covering, under the pretext that it the result of a sincere religious belief. We consider that this sets a dangerous precedent because it assigns legal value to religious beliefs and permits exemptions from courtroom rules on the basis on those beliefs. Such exemptions can only be granted to religious believers and thus constitute an unacceptable situation of inequality, i.e. discrimination against non-believers.
AFT Denounces the Inaction and Dishonesty of the Federal Justice Minister Regarding Religious Hate Propaganda
AFT denounces the deception of the Minister of Justice in her response to our petition asking for repeal of the religious exception 319(3)b) in the Hate Propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code. The petition received over 1500 signatures on the Parliament website and was presented to the House of Commons on 1st March 2018.
In her response tabled on 16th April 2018, the Minister attempts to justify the religious exception by conflating three different exceptions […]
AFT declares its support for the initiative of the Association québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité (AQNAL, Quebec Association of North-Africans for Secularism) in its letter addressed to Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante concerning the wearing of religious symbols by policemen and policewomen. AQNAL’s letter, published in the newspaper Le Devoir on 12th April 2018, emphasizes the fact that allowing the hijab, which is in no way representative of Muslim women, will not favour the emancipation of women. On the contrary, the veil constitutes a means of controlling Muslim women, jeopardizes their freedom and is even a symbol of violence.
We would like to add several arguments to complement those expressed by AQNAL […]
The AFT Petition Against the Religious Exception in Canada’s Hate Propaganda Law is Presented to Parliament
LPA announces that its parliamentary petition e-763, calling for repeal of the religious exception in the Hate Propaganda law, i.e. line 319(3)b) of the Criminal Code of Canada, has recently been presented to the House of Commons. […]
Recall that the part of this exception which stipulates that an individual may not be found guilty if he or she expressed “an opinion based on a belief in a religious text,” i.e. which grants impunity to believers, was adopted by the House on 17th September 2003, as part of Bill C-250, at the same time that sexual orientation was added to the list of identifiable groups, […]
LPA-AFT vigorously denounces the statement made by Prime Minister Trudeau on Monday at the ceremony commemorating the Quebec City mosque killing of 2017-01-29. […]
LPA-AFT considers it unacceptable to compare homophobia and “Islamophobia”. […]
LPA-AFT considers Trudeau’s statement to be a semantic manipulation whose purpose is to prevent any criticism of Islam, in addition to being an insult to the dignity of homosexual persons.
AFT is pleased to announce the launch of its parliamentary petition e-763 against the religious exception in the federal Hate Propaganda law, that is, line 319(3)b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. That line stipulates that “an opinion based on a belief in a religious text” is not considered hateful. However, several religious scriptures make declarations which denigrate and promote hatred towards various groups, including atheists, women, gays and others. The impunity granted by this provision thus constitutes an unjust privilege for religious believers and is prejudicial towards nonbelievers…
AFT calls on Premier Couillard to make sure that Koranic verses calling for criminal action are not promoted in Quebec.
AFT calls on the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, to see that verses of the Koran which call for criminal action are not promoted in the mosques and Koranic schools of Quebec. In a letter addressed to the Premier today, AFT congratulates him first for his appeal to Quebec Muslims to accept some of the responsibility for the attacks committed in the name of their religion by Islamist terrorists. However, AFT calls on the Premier to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that such a gesture is real.
Atheist Freethinkers denounces government inaction concerning the Ethics and Religious Culture Program
LPA-AFT denounces the inaction of the Quebec government with regard to the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program. This program, in particular its religion component, requires pupils at all public school levels, up to the end of secondary school, to study religions in a sanitized form, without objectivity, with a total lack of critical perspective. It has been the target of many very serious and thoughtful criticisms. And yet, the Minister of Education, Sébastien Proulx, recently rejected outright any possibility of abolishing the program. Furthermore, although ERC is currently under revision, the proposed elimination of the religion component has also been dismissed. […]
Such a programme in a secular school system is simply unacceptable. […] We demand that Minister Proulx withdraw the religion component of the Ethics and Religious Culture Program.
The organization Atheist Freethinkers (AFT) condemns the recent murderous attack, on a Quebec City mosque, which left six dead and several wounded. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] will appear tomorrow, Tuesday 8th November at 4:30 pm, before the Committee on Institutions at the National Assembly in Quebec City, for public hearings on Draft Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies.
Three members of the Board of Directors […] will present the association’s brief, entitled, “A Law Very Distant from Secularism, Draft Bill 62 grants privileges to religions, thus defying religious neutrality.” They will ask that the Minister of Justice […] withdraw the draft bill, […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the sale of military equipment by Canada to Saudi Arabia. AFT also denounces the draconian anti-atheist policy of the Saudi regime.
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the draft legislation tabled by the Polish government in response to pressure from the Catholic Church, which would completely ban all abortions in that country. AFT expresses its solidarity with our atheist colleagues of the Foundation Kazimierz Łyszczyński, co-organizer of the Days of Atheism 2016 held in Warsaw at the beginning of April and which opposes this draconian measure and similarly opposes all religious interference in the affairs of state.
AFT urges our politicians to eliminate religious privileges and to stop referring to religion-based violence as racist
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the Justin Trudeau government for favouring individuals who have a religion over those who have no religion. It also denounces inappropriate use of the term “racism”––by Prime Minister Trudeau, by Kathleen Weil, Quebec Minister of Culture, Communications and Immigration and by Régis Labeaume, the mayor of Quebec City––to describe the recent incident that occurred in the Quebec City region, in which Mr. Singh Khehra was allegedly beaten, apparently because of his belonging to the Sikh religion. […]
However, the Prime Minister himself practises discrimination––positive in this case––by allowing his ministers Harjit Sajjan and Navdeep Bains to wear the Sikh turban while performing their functions as representatives of the state. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the confused and spineless language used by some of our politicians in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamists in Brussels on March 22nd and urges these leaders to take real, effective measures to counter the Islamist threat.
We, of the organization Atheist Freethinkers, denounce of course these horrible and barbarous acts of terrorism and express our solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, as well as with the Belgian people in this extremely difficult period. But sentiments are not enough. Action is required. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the recent publicity of the federal ministry Health Canada which displayed the image of a woman wearing a hijab while using an asthma inhaler. […]
Indeed, the hijab is an emblem of Islamist fundamentalism worn by women who are themselves fundamentalists or who are forced by fundamentalists to wear it. The niqab is even worse. It is unacceptable that the government should endorse fundamentalist religious proselytism in such a manner. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] is proud to announce its support for the petition against religious symbols worn by Canadian cabinet ministers. This petition is sponsored by the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (Alliance for Secularism) in collaboration with AFT and several other associations promoting secularism.
[…] the petition calls on ministers Harjit Singh Sajjan and Navdeep Bainsen to abstain from wearing the Sikh turban while they are on duty […]. Indeed, the wearing of such a partisan symbol favours one religion in particular and thus constitutes a violation of the religious neutrality of the Canadian state as defined by the Supreme Court.
Tomorrow in Kitchener, Ontario a major convention for non-believers, the “Non-Conference,” will feature issues of importance to atheists, humanists and secularists. Atheist Freethinkers … will be represented by its president David Rand on a panel discussing the international campaign to repeal all laws which criminalize blasphemy, including Canada’s antiquated law prohibiting “Blasphemous Libel.”
Mr. Rand will also denounce the Quebec government’s plan to introduce legislation, draft Bill 59, which is a major threat to freedom of expression and fundamental human rights and would be equivalent to a new anti-blasphemy law at the provincial level.…
AFT expresses its agreement with the recent decision of the federal government to appeal the ruling of the Federal Court which removed the ban on face-covering during swearing-in ceremonies for Canadian citizenship.
[…] To permit, for religious motives, the wearing of clothing which hides the face during a citizenship ceremony constitutes an unacceptable religious accommodation. Such arrangements are anything but reasonable because they are based neither on reason nor on any real need. […]
AFT denounces the odious attacks which claimed the lives of two innocent people on February 14th and 15th in Copenhagen and which constitutes, like the Paris attacks in early January, a violation of the fundamental freedoms of every human being, in particular freedom of conscience, and was perpetrated in the name of Islamist extremism. The association simultaneously denounces the cowardice and lack of integrity of several news media — for example most English-language newspapers in Canada — which refused and continue to refuse to publish the cartoons which the murderers used, in both cases, as an excuse for their crimes.
[…] By failing to display these cartoons while conveying a false impression of their content, news media thus facilitate the manipulations of imams who dictate to the Muslim public that they have a religious obligation to feel offended. […]
AFT, an association which promotes secularism and supports the rights of atheists, condemns the horrific attack yesterday on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo […]
The best way that we as Canadians can honour the victims of today’s attack and pay homage to their legacy is to repeal Section 296 of the Criminal Code which makes “blasphemy” a crime and to work assiduously for the repeal of all laws in all countries which criminalize “blasphemy” or apostasy. […]
Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT) […] reminds the Quebec Ministry of Education […] that all children — regardless of the religious affiliation of their parents — have a right to adequate primary and secondary school instruction, as stipulated by provincial legislation.
[…] The same program should be provided to all children regardless of their parents’ religion. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] asks the Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to demand that the government of Saudi Arabia release the blogger Raif Badawi who is currently imprisoned in that country for the “crime” of insulting Islam.
Atheist Freethinkers […] welcomes the intention of the government of Quebec to adopt a so-called Charter of Values which would formally establish the secular status of the Quebec state. […] However, like most who support the proposed Charter, we do so with some reservations. […]
Atheist Freethinkers […] denounces the creation of the new Office of Religious Freedom, recently announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. […] the mandate of the new Office does not explicitly include protection of apostates and atheists against persecution, and there is little hope that it will address the ill-treatment of non-believers as well as believers. […] Freedom of religion is not a fundamental freedom in the same way as freedom of conscience, but rather derives from it. Similarly, the freedom to have no religion and the freedom to criticize religious belief also derive from freedom of conscience. Indeed, without the right to leave one’s religion or to have none, freedom of religion is meaningless. […]