A War Against Freedom

I recently penned a letter warning about measures to diminish the role of parents in their children’s education, and crossing the line between indoctrination and education, as grave threats to democracy. A perceptive reader observed that past aboriginal residential schools also eliminated parents from their children’s education and indoctrinated against parents’ traditional values.

Freedom to educate one’s own children according to parental norms is not the only fundamental freedom under threat in Canada today. Other public authorities are also eliminating fundamental freedoms.

In November, when you praise our brave men and women in uniform for fighting to preserve your freedoms ask whether they fought to protect your freedom to follow your conscience rather than being coerced into aiding the killing of others against their conscience. Regulations from the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons require doctors whose conscience forbids them from complicity in taking a life to “just follow orders” by letting the regulators’ consciences  over-rule their own.

Assisted suicide is like finding a loved one perched on the edge of the bridge ready to jump off and being asked to give the final nudge. It may be legal to jump from a bridge. The Supreme Court may even have made it legal for someone to give the final nudge in certain circumstances. But, even if you agree with all of that, when did we give any public authority the power to order anyone to push someone to their death?

Opponents of freedom of conscience characterize doctors who want the freedom of conscience to refuse complicity in taking an innocent life as requesting “special” consideration. When did freedom of conscience in refusing to assist in killing require special consideration rather than being a general freedom for which our ancestors fought?

When you praise our brave men and women in uniform for fighting to preserve your freedoms ask whether they fought to protect your freedom to choose your own religious beliefs and to associate with those who share your beliefs. Remarkably, public authorities in some Canadian law societies now punish law graduates simply because they are affiliated with a church community holding a dissenting religious view. Trinity Western is a B.C. church community dedicated to providing university education, including legal training, for its members. Because law society authorities oppose that church’s religious doctrine that union between one man and one woman is sacred in God’s eyes, those authorities choose to hinder graduates trained by the church in practising their chosen livelihood.

Even the personal views of the graduates do not protect them from this punishment. Unless the Trinity Western church renounces its peaceful religious doctrine about marriage, or at least allows those to join their church who do not share their doctrine, those in power will punish graduates trained by their church.  Even if you don’t agree with Trinity Western’s religious belief about marriage, do you really want any public authority to have the power to dictate what you can believe?

These authorities are following the example of the absolutist monarch Henry VIII, who also insisted that his subjects renounce their former belief about marriage and adopt his new one! Of course, Henry VIII cut off the heads of religious dissenters whereas public authorities today merely want to deny religious dissenters the right to participate in the judicial life of our country. It is still a direct assault on your freedom of religious belief and your freedom of association, freedoms for which your ancestors bravely fought.       

Space does not permit mention of other features of the war being waged against democratic freedoms in Canada today. It is past time for every Canadian to follow the example of your ancestors in rising up to defend against the abuse of power which denies the very legitimacy of your freedom.

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