Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Saguenay Mayor Fundraises to Keep Prayer In City Council On City Stationery

Mayor Jean Tremblay (source)
Remember our favourite mayor Jean Tremblay? He's awesome entertaining -- hilarious! -- go read about him! He's quite the character! There is a downside, though. He's also feverently Catholic and wants to foist his magical incantations and holy relics all over everyone in his City Council chamber over in Saguenay. He's been at this business for the last eight years, at least. So the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case between him and the Quebec Secular Movement, who don't want him whipping out his religion during publicly-funded city business.

He's able to pay for all this extravagant court business with a big fundraiser -- which he did in the capacity of mayor of Saguenay! Here's a video on the city's official Youtube site celebrating how citizens and organizations like the Knights of Columbus are all donating to the court fees. Apparently the city has dealt with all its more pressing problems and so can now be turned into a fundraising tool for the mayor's personal religious convictions -- isn't that grand?

Well, it seems like the court case is costing more than expected and the mayor is back for another religious pledge drive. This time he did a mass mailing on the city's letterhead and presumably with the city's mailing facilities!

Dans la lettre, le maire Tremblay rappelle que la décision éventuelle du plus haut tribunal canadien permettra ou non la prière et la présence du crucifix dans la salle du Conseil. Il écrit aussi: «sans votre appui financier et moral, il m'aurait été presque impensable de livrer une telle bataille.»
In the letter, Mayor Tremblay wrote that the eventual decision of the highest Canadian court would permit or outlaw prayer and the presence of the crucifix in the counsel room. He also writes: "without your financial and moral support, it would be almost unthinkable for me to undertake such a battle.
There was not a whole lot of concern about this from his fellow council members -- perhaps they're all peachy keen with this anyway, since they all say the prayer! There was only a slight quibble from Simon-Olivier Côté. He's referencing the bolded part of the letter above.
«Le ton personnel montre que c'est son combat. Donc, le papier de la ville, c'est questionnable, mais pas choquant, croit Simon-Olivier Côté. Les rôles deviennent confus. Ce n'est pas lui personnellement, mais c'est lui qui est le porte-parole du dossier, qui sollicite», a ajouté Julie Dufour.
The personal tone shows that it's his battle. So, the city letterhead, it's questionable, but not shocking... 
Based on my limited research, very little is shocking with this mayor.

Oh, he refuses to actually tell anyone how many of these letters he sent out on city stationery.

Wikipedia states that as of 2011 at least, Tremblay has already utterly left the Quebec Secular Movement in the dust when it comes to fundraising. I guess being mayor has its perks.
On July 12, 2011, The Canadian Press says the mayor's fundraising campaign has raised $181,000, compared to the fundraiser launched by the MLQ which has received $25,000.
I'm uncertain about current numbers, but I'd be willing to bet that Tremblay has now raised many more thousands.

Want to help counter this evil plan? Visit the Quebec Secular Movement donation page or the  Canadian Secular Alliance Fundraiser Page and chip in a little to potentially stop prayer in government assemblies in Quebec, in Canada.

Another Canadian Politician Comes Out Against Evolution

Last week, Conservative (duh!) Ontario MPP Rick Nicholls shared with us that he's just not into believing established science... evil-u-shion -- other folks can, but it's just not his personal reality. We all laughed and put this little embarrassing find behind ourselves as the Conservative party distanced themselves from his statements.

Well, now a federal Conservative (duh!) MP, James Lunney, is reminding us all that evolution is just a theory, okay! It's not like it's a fact or anything! Jury's also still out about Relativity and Gravity.
Lunney totally gets the scientific method -- regardless of what most scientists think about evolution, especially those arrogant biologists.
Look, contrary to the scientific community, Lunney knows this whole evolution thing is a bit of a crock. Nothing arrogant about that at all.

This isn't the first time Lunney has set nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century science straight on the facts of evolution.
Lunney, who represents the federal riding of Nanaimo-Alberni. seemed to be echoing views he expressed in a statement to the House in 2009:

"Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science. For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible. Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis," he said then.

"The evolutionist may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point. The evolutionist may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a Creator."
Wait though, it gets worse. Lunney has also questioned climate change and vaccines causing Autism. Is this a royal flush? Well, one can only hope that what's flushing is any chance Lunney has at making any policy decisions involving science.
Lunney has also used his Twitter account in the past to question climate change.

Last year he tweeted "Science settled? Think again!" and posted a link to an article by a University of Guelph economist who is one of the signatories of a declaration disputing climate change.

In a 2004 speech in the House of Commons, Lunney cited figures he said showed a tenfold increase in the incidence of autism and said Canada should explore a link to vaccines.
Luckily, he has stated he will not be running for re-election in 2015. Perhaps "Dr" Lunney will go back to his pseudo-science-based chiropractic practice instead.

Isn't it interesting how the Conservative party seems to be a magnet for this insanity? It's like they have a war on science going or something.

Windsor Will Not Fly Jesus Flag For 2015 'March for Jesus' Parade

Shirley Walsh holding up the Christian flag (source).
In August 2013, the city of Windsor kept religion separate from state by rejecting a bid to fly the Christian flag atop City Hall by pastor Shirley Walsh of the Cutting Edge International Church. This would have been part of their annual March for Jesus. They're request was also denied in 2014 and now it's been denied yet again. I think they might understand this secularism thing in Windsor.
Council voted against the request from the Cutting Edge International Church to raise the flag three days before the event, because it contravenes city policy, which reads: “At no time will the City of Windsor display flags deemed to be inappropriate or offensive in nature or those supporting discrimination, prejudice, political or religious movements.”
Mayor Drew Dilkens stated that flying the flag in 2012 was a mistake they do not plan to repeat, because they are trying to be fair to everyone.
Mayor Drew Dilkens said council is only trying to be fair to everyone.

“We have a policy that says we don’t allow religious organizations, amongst others, to fly their flag on government property,” Dilkens said. “I think people see that the March for Jesus — Jesus being a religious symbol — didn’t meet that policy.”
Take a look at this document at the City of Windsor, where you'll see Walsh's original request (end) and an excellent example of how, unlike other cities, Windsor is actively working to promote secularism and an inclusive environment for all religions or non-religions.
There is a great social and ideological risk associated with the approval of religious and faith based flags to fly at City Hall. To grant the opportunity of tools for one religion or religious movement to promote itself city-wide regardless of creed or belief system is not the jurisdiction or function of local government. The policy does not accept these types of flags for these purposes as there must be a clear divide between the role of governance and religion. Furthermore, acceptance of one group or organization would not adequately reflect the presence of the multicultural mosaic and other religious factions that make up the greater community.
By golly! They've got it! Good work, Windsor!

Edit 2015-03-03: Veronica points out that the City council still prays a 'non-denominational' prayer before each meeting. See comments below. 
"Every city council meeting starts with the singing of O Canada, followed by a prayer from various groups. On Monday night, a woman read a prayer from the Baha’i Community of Windsor."

Naturally, nobody is stopping the March for Jesus people from marching and waiving about whatever flags they like. The very same document grants them permission to march on city streets and express themselves like any other group of citizens. They just cannot use the city's flagpole as a statement of cultural dominance or religious heritage or whatever.

This story was brought to my attention by reader rg57. He wisely pointed out in a comment to the last story about this group's flag-hoisting endeavours that they've got until August to figure out a way to bamboozle the City Council to change their minds.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

University of Toronto Supporting 'Alternative-Vaccines' Instructor

Beth Landau-Halpern (source)
In November, we learned from an excellent CBC's Marketplace documentary that homeopaths are really into dissuading mothers from vaccinating their babies and Beth Landau-Halpern was one of those homeopaths. She responded publicly in in a fairly predictable manner and the story really would have ended there, except...
Toronto-based homeopath Beth Landau-Halpern is a health studies instructor and teaches a course in alternative medicine at U of T’s Scarborough campus, where her husband, Rick Halpern, is dean. Last year, she wrote a blog post on her clinic’s website about teaching fourth-year health studies students to have “a healthy degree of skepticism about the limits of science in understanding health and disease.” On her website, Ms. Landau-Halpern has also written that “normal childhood illnesses like measles and chicken pox are almost always followed by massive developmental spurts” and to “avoid vaccinations” because they are “of questionable efficacy, full of ingredients that definitely should not be in the blood stream, and may compromise your general immunity irreparably.”
What the hell is wrong with our universities? The University of Toronto is totally down with her instructing at their Scarborough campus and is even sponsoring an event where she'll be speaking along with some naturopath who claims they can treat cancer! I've heard that claim before -- it was made to the late Makayla Sault's mother and motivated them to end life saving chemotherapy.
On Saturday, Ms. Landau-Halpern is slated to speak at the Population Health and Policy Conference at the Scarborough campus. The event – sponsored by the University of Toronto International Health Program, a non-profit student organization, the anthropology/health studies department, and others – also features a naturopath who claims to treat cancer, heart disease and fibromyalgia with vitamin injections.
The university is defending itself by saying it is promoting student engagement in controversial topics! Except, wait! It's established science and is not controversial at all. They also say it's freedom of speech! Except, wait! Nobody's preventing these people from having their conference at the local Sheraton, for goodness sake! Should universities let any rubbish in?
Across Canada, more academic institutions are offering alternative health courses . The problem is that alternatives to evidence-based medicine are not rooted in science, says Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health. He worries about the consequences of holding events such as U of T’s alternative health conference. “It’s problematic when a university, an institution, lends credibility to these kinds of presentations with its name and support,” he said. “Having University of Toronto’s name next to their names on these [promotional] posters legitimizes their position and can be used to legitimize their unscientific views.”
Last year, the University of Saskatchewan supported a conference all about animal telepathy.  Just last month, Queens University had to stop an anti-vaxxer from teaching a health course.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Quebec Judge Refuses to Hear Muslim Woman's Case With Her Hijab On

Rania El-Alloul (source)
Montreal resident Rania El-Alloul had to see a judge in order to get her impounded car back. She is Muslim, and chooses to wear a hijab (which does not impair anyone's ability to identify her.) However, judge Eliana Marengo demanded Rania remove her religious headgear before she would hear the case. Rania refused and the case was suspended indefinitely.
Marengo: El-Alloul, you stated that you were wearing the scarf, earlier. You stated you were wearing a scarf as a religious symbol.

Rania: Yes.

Marengo: In my opinion the courtroom is a secular place and a secular space. There are no religious symbols in this room, not on the walls and not on the persons. Article 13 of the regulation of the Court of Quebec states: Any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed. In my opinion you are not suitably dressed. Decorum is important. Hats and sunglasses, for example, are not allowed. I don't see why scarves on the head would be either. The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you, if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding. 
On Friday, the Quebec Court stood by Marengo's decision.
The Court of Quebec said Friday it is standing by Marengo’s decision and the judge would not bow to public pressure.

Court spokeswoman Annie-Claude Bergeron repeated Friday that judges are masters of their courtroom and have the right to interpret the law and set the rules of the court as they see fit.
Apparently, there is little to no judicial precedent for Marengo's decision; it all boils down to what you define as decorum. I tend to agree with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association:
Sukanya Pillay, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s executive director, said the state has no right to be in people’s closets and to tell women what to wear.

“The courtroom has every right to be secular,” said Pillay. “But that doesn't translate into telling people what they can and cannot wear in a manner that’s incompatible with their freedom of religion.”
There is broad support for Rania across the country. A GoFundMe campaign was launched to buy her a new car, since he current one is still impounded. So far, it's raised $24,000 in its first day.

I'm all for secularism, and the ideals of laïcité, but doesn't this seem completely petty? Take a look at what kind of image is being portrayed of secular ideals with this.

If the courtroom is empty of all religious symbols and the judges and government employees are not wearing religious symbols then mission accomplished -- no need to go any further! You have achieved an acceptable level of secularism! In such a place, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists -- everyone can feel equally welcome. There is no government bias.

Now a word about decorum in the 21st century. As far as I am concerned, if what you're wearing does not violate any decency laws outside of the court and you can positively identify the person (no face covering), then you should be fine wearing it in the court. I realize this makes me seem like a radical, but it's truly the only fair approach.

Oh, and if the judge has a problem where she feels she's unable to render a fair judgement for someone wearing a hijab, or habit, or kippah, then she has the right to refer the case to another judge. This would be her own issue -- her own struggle to be secular.

I know several readers will strongly disagree with me, but I really do think that a secular court does not include everything every visitor or guest is wearing. As a secular atheist, I find myself growing weary of these fits against what people are wearing and yearn for a time when we can remove prayers and bloody crucifixes from city halls and start properly taxing religious institutions. Wouldn't that be something even Rania El-Alloul could unite with us on?

Friday, 27 February 2015

VIA Rail Terror Plot Suspect's Trial Ends After He Refused to Participate in Canada's 'Non-Quranic' Legal System

Chiheb Esseghaier (source)
Remember those two terrorists who were charged with scheming to blow up a VIA rail train from New York to Montreal? Chiheb Esseghaier is one of them and there has been some difficulty getting him proper legal defence -- because he doesn't believe in any sort of judicial system other than what's in the Quran.
Esseghaier told the court during an earlier appearance following his arrest in late April that the Criminal Code should not apply to him because it's "not a holy book." Instead, he wants the Qur'an used as a "reference" in his case. 
Well, after Esseghaier ranting about tsunamis and other natural disasters punishing secular nations, and refusing to actually defend himself in court, the crown prosecution has called the trial a wrap.

Judge Michael Code acknowledged that the trial went by much quicker than anticipated. Still, the courts of law must continue to function, regardless of whether or not it's against your religion.
The jury heard an excerpt of Esseghaier's motion, in which he said "the Holy Qur'an should be used as a unique reference for judgement in the matters of people's life" because "humans are not perfect, but God is his laws are supreme laws."

Code went on to explain that he dismissed Esseghaier's motion and told him the trial would be carried out under the provisions of the criminal code, a ruling that Esseghaier didn't agree with.

"He explained to me, when the jury was summonsed, that his participation in the trial would signify his acceptance of the trial being conducted pursuant to the criminal code and not pursuant to the Holy Qur'an," Code said. "In these circumstances, he decided that he should not participate."
You know what? I'm perfectly fine with this. I guess it makes the trial easier and all the while it saves our court system money. It's a win-win situation. No concessions should be made.

You can read more about the case in this piece by Rosie DiManno at the Toronto Star.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What Happens To Canadian Politicians Who Say They Don't Believe In Evolution

My favourite part of the video is when the sound person smiles and actually has to look away to deal when Ontario Conservative MPP says that his denial of evolution is his personal stance. (source)
We all know what the dismal situation with evolution denying politicians in America. What happens if a politician comes out against evolution in Ontario, Canada? Well, here's one who did - Ontario Tory MPP Rick Nicholls:

Don't you just love how the reporters, who apparently could hardly believe it, did their jobs and followed up on his answer by more or less pointing out that his views went against established science and reality? Take a look at the reaction of the sound technician in the lower right when Nicholls said it was his personal reality stance that evolution was false -- it looks to me like she had to look the other way so as to not lose it on national television.

It's music to my ears and reassures me that in Canada it could just be the current government and a small segment of religious zealots who are making problems. Maybe the rest is salvageable?

Several other MPPs have already distanced themselves from Nicholls because anyone who would throw out such a clearly established scientific theory is clearly a loon!
“What he said yesterday in the house is obviously not party policy,” said a perturbed Clark. “I met with him yesterday and indicated that if I was asked he certainly didn’t profess party policy and he spoke on his own.”

Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, who is running for party leader, distanced herself from the comments by Nicholls, a supporter of her main leadership rival Patrick Brown, the Conservative MP for Barrie.

“I don’t agree with the views that were expressed with respect to evolution,” Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park.
In the video interview above, the reporter asked Nicholls if other Conservatives didn't believe in evolution. The reply was that the reporters should ask the politicians directly. I think the media really ought to focus on this so Ontarians can vote them out for being out of touch from reality.

via Sandwalk

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Poll: Canadians Support Charlie Hebdo's Right to Publish Muhammed Cartoons

An Angus Reid poll has found that a strong majority of Canadians support Charlie Hebdo's right to publish cartoons of Muhammed. This poll was commissioned by the National Post, the only Canadian English newspaper I know of with the intestinal fortitude to published the cartoons.

Jen Gerson at the National Post writes:
Although the paper was notoriously controversial, fully 70% of Canadian respondents said that Charlie Hebdo was right to publish the cartoons that eventually led to the massacre. Further, Canadians overwhelmingly believe that freedom of speech is more important than kowtowing to religious sensibilities. By a ratio of five-to-one, respondents said they prioritized freedom of speech — at least to some degree — over respecting religious feeling.
Apparently, only 56% of respondents thought it was advisable for Canadian media to publish the images -- which is still more than half and I wonder if that number would be higher if the Canadian media (outside of Quebec) weren't so damn chicken livered. How much of an effect did it have on people when the media kept making excuses and reminding us every 15 minutes how horribly inappropriate or reckless it was to publish the cartoons? The article acknowledged that Quebec publications (minus the English ones) were very much more likely to have run the cartoons.

Another interesting finding was the correlation between higher education and support for Hebdo. It also seems like people who identified with either end of the political spectrum -- clear Conservatives vs. Progressives -- seemed to more strongly support the publication of the cartoons.
The results also suggest that older men and those who were very familiar with the attacks were more likely to support Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish. More educated respondents were also more likely to show support for Charlie Hebdo. Those who voted for either the Conservatives or the NDP were also equally likely to say that it was right of the satirical newspaper to publish the cartoons. Liberals were significantly less likely to agree.
You can see more detailed breakdowns at the Angus Reid results page.

I would theorize that the NDP crowd are more likely to be a Progressive secular crowd who deeply value freedom of speech -- although I did see many Progressives wrongly calling for a form of self-censorship lest we alienate an already vilified minority.

My cynical side cannot help but think that many Conservatives are happy to see any ridicule of non-Christian religion -- but to be honest, this is probably a small concentration of religious fundamentalist within their party. The article doesn't go into this.

These two political extremes were further reflected perhaps in when considering the provinces with the highest support for Charlie Hebdo: Leftist-Socialist Quebec and Rightwing-Capitalist Alberta:
In Quebec, fully 78% of respondents registered support for the magazine. Alberta came in second with 73%.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country is less certain, a mush in-between perhaps, which is why many vote Liberal.

You can read the full report here.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Alberta Mother Fights For Her Son's Secular Education

Map showing Legal, AB with Legal School. (source)
Patricia Brown moved from Kitimat, British Columbia to Legal, Alberta a couple of years ago, attracted by the low housing costs. At the time, she didn't think she would have such a hard time finding a secular education for her young son. Well, it turns out that in Legal, there is no secular public school!

You've got publicly-funded Catholic École Citadelle in French and publicly-funded Catholic Legal School in English.

If you take a look at the Alberta Education page on School Choice, they talk about Public and Separate schools. You'll see that the public option seems to be meant to be the default while religious minorities can split off to form publicly-funded Separate schools.
The right of the religious minority, either Protestant or Roman Catholic, to establish a separate school district is enshrined in legislation.  The Government has made a commitment to have one publicly funded system of education with two dimensions, the public schools and the separate schools.  The purpose of this information package is to inform separate school electors of the process available to them when establishing a separate school district.
Woops. I guess it just didn't work out that way in Legal. Seems like the minorities are really the majorities. We're now beginning to see what happens when you're not either Protestant or Roman Catholic.

Back to Brown's predicament. The English Catholic school is totally cool with her kid attending. He'll have to sit in the principal's office during religion class though -- which is usually, you know, a sort of punishment. Of course, Brown and Alberta's taxpayers are paying for this segregation and singling out. I'm also guessing that the Catholicizing is itself not completely segregated to merely that hour. It probably permeates their entire program.
Legal School is a Christ Centered Learning Community committed to providing students with quality education and experiential learning. Each student is a precious gift from God. 
Brown and other parents -- not just her! -- have a solution to this problem. The school itself is only half full, so they are asking the Catholic board to share the premises with a secular school.
The perfect solution, they say, is for the Catholic board to allow the public board to set up classes in the half-used Legal School.

“There’s lots of room in the Catholic school here,” said Sheena Schlachter. “I don’t see what the big deal is at all.”

But the parents think the Catholic board has already made up its mind.

“The public highly subsidizes a half-empty Catholic school and they refuse to share with the public,” Thiel said
You know what's hilarious? The superintendent of the Catholic School board involved said that they are working with the other two boards -- maybe the Public and French Catholic? -- to resolve the issue. Turns out he might be telling a little fib!
“Not from my perspective,” said Michele Dick, superintendent of Sturgeon School Division. “We did, yes, have one meeting.”

No others are planned, she said.
Funny. Just keep on going through the motions and perhaps everyone will just look the other way, right?

Come on now, isn't sharing considered a virtuous act?

It turns out that the nearest town with an actual secular option is Morinville, some 45 minutes away by car. You know what's a little ironic about that? The only reason it is an option is because in 2012 parents there finally got a secular school after fighting tooth and claw for it for two years. Authorities transferred a school from the Catholic board to the Public board.
The school transfer ends a long battle by parents to get a non-religious school in the town north of Edmonton. One of the parents who led the fight, Donna Hunter, was thrilled by Friday's announcement.

"Really happy," she said. "Really pleased that this long two-year battle for something that should have always been there is completed and that there is a real school and real enrolment can happen for September."

Morinville's historical origins created a situation in which all four schools in the town were run by the publicly-funded Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division.
In a Globe and Mail story from 2011 during the struggle for secular education in Morinville, Frank Peters, an expert in school governance, clearly demonstrated why sitting in the principal's office for an hour every day will not deliver an unbiased dogma-free education.
The Alberta School Act allows children to be excused from religious or patriotic exercises or instruction. "But in a Catholic school, the entire curriculum is permeated with the Catholic theology, hence the problem," said Frank Peters, an expert in school governance and a professor of education at the University of Alberta.
The district is clear that religion in its schools isn't isolated to one class a day. Students pray before lunch and snacks, sing songs about Jesus and move through classrooms adorned with doves, crosses and other religious symbols.
How is this any different than the situation in Legal? It isn't, of course.

In Morinville, the parents got their public school -- now hopefully it will be Legal's turn, especially since there is the much less drastic -- and cost effective -- solution of having both boards share the same premises.

Of course, the ultimate solution would be for the government to stop funding religious schools altogether and in doing so, ensure every child in the province has reasonable access to dogma-free secular education -- but that's another story.

Radical Imams & Rabbis Coming to a Community Centre Near You!

Pierre-Olivier Zappa over at TVA Nouvelles wrote up an informative column about some of the more compelling (read: radical) religious leaders who will be either visiting or setting up shop here in Montreal in the upcoming month.

There are quite a few on the page. Why not take a look at a radical Muslim event and then a radical Jewish event? For radical Christians, I'll refer to to the Westboro folks and their ilk.

This past Saturday, Salah Assawy was to drop by the Outremont Community Centre with another imam for a crowd of 300. Assawy is the Secretary General of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) which is an organization that issues fatwas to help Muslims live properly here in the West. He's also founder and president of the Mishkah Islamic University of North America which was founded as the Sharia Academy of America. Can you figure out why they might have felt compelled to change the name?

Indeed, Assawy is really into Sharia Law for everyone. Hardcore.
Al-Sawy explicitly preaches “Shari’a rule” as a form of governance. He said, “Not ruling by “Shari’ah is the reason for all that the Ummah [Muslim world] is afflicted with … misfortune, neediness, adversity and disaster.” He said that the Devil has “deceived them into believing that the Shari’ah is not appropriate for every time and place” and that Sharia’s hudud, or penal code, is “harsh and barbarous.”
Oh, and he also seems to believe that folks like me probably would best dead. It's so gratifying to me that the Montreal branch of his Mishkah university is in my very own borough.
A 2009 fatwa by Al-Sawy rules that critics of Islam’s founder deserve the death penalty, stating, “repentance does not lift up the set punishment for cursing and insulting the Prophet, i.e., execution.” A 2006 fatwa issued by al-Haj explicitly states that the punishment for leaving Islam is death, but it can only be carried out by an Islamic judiciary system and not individuals.
It can only be carried out by an Islamic judiciary system and not individuals? What a relief!

It's not just him though. The AMJA issues several fatwas from various scholars. One such scholar is Hatem al-Haj who has a few interesting things to say about marital rape.
A 2009 AMJA fatwa endorses marital rape: “As for the issue of forcing a wife to have sex, if she refuses, this would not be called rape, even though it goes against natural instincts and destroys love and mercy, and there is a great sin upon the wife who refuses.” A 2006 ruling by al-Haj states that the punishment for a married man guilty of adultery is stoning.
Yes, this is someone living in 21st century North America. This organization is also apparently totally down with female genital mutilation circumcision too:
In 2010, al-Haj approved of female circumcision, stating that the AMJA version of it is different than what is practiced in some African communities. He claimed, “Some extremists from the West and their devout followers in the Muslim world would like to brand all circumcision as female genital mutilation.” He said that because the West has not objectively studied the issue, “all of their propaganda about female circumcision is nothing more than bigotry.
It's a shame I missed this event because I would have loved to see exactly why our information about FGM is nothing more than bigotry.

Well, it turns out the city canceled the event, presumably when news in this TVA story broke in the Quebec media.

As I wrote previously about radical anti-democratic imam Hamza Chaoui, I have no problem with these men sharing their retrograde ideas. Those who have issues with them can have non-violent, non-harassing protests and information distribution outside. It's my opinion these ideas should not be silenced or they will be driven underground to fester. They must be confronted head on. It would be especially great to see the more liberal elements of these religions speaking out against speakers like this.

Now then. Why not mark February 27th on your calendar for an evening with Israeli rabbi Yosef Mizrachi? He's really big on reincarnation and believes that autistic kids and down kids are just reincarnated souls who need minor correction before they go up to heaven -- basically bad karma from previous lives.

Well, that's just kooky. According to the TVA story, he also claims that Jews get cancer when women dress inappropriately and couples flirt too much. It's all those erotic conversations, Facebook, drugs, alcohol... Apparently the Jews also deserved the Holocaust.
Chaque minute, un Juif est frappé par le cancer. C'est en raison de l'habillement des femmes, des relations entre filles et garçons. C'est en raison des conversations érotiques, de Facebook, de la drogue et de l'alcool. Toutes ces tragédies s'expliquent ainsi», enseigne-t-il. Le prédicateur ajoute que l'Holocauste est une punition méritée par certaines communautés juives.
Frimet Goldberger over at the blog The Sisterhood at The Jewish Daily Forward wrote about Mizrachi (and others) in her post Rabbis Gone Wild -- About Modesty and (Gasp!) Zumba:
... There is another, particularly intriguing, rabbi — let’s call him the Ladies Rabbi — Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi. This popular Sephardi rabbi travels from town to town, lecturing about anything that strikes his fancy (mostly women) and debating Christian ministers. His website is called Divine Information, clearly a sign that his is the word of God, and he purports to merge and make sense of the Torah and science and many other things besides.

In one of his most popular and fascinating speeches, Rabbi Mizrachi — in one fell swoop — manages to spew anti-Muslim invective while praising devout Muslim men who “don’t let” their wives dress as provocatively as Jewish men let their wives.

“Even the Muslim murderers,” he cries (around 27 minutes in), “who blow themselves up with suicide vests and kill babies don’t allow their women to go out dressed the way our women do. If she shows one inch of her body (pointing at his wrists) they’ll kill her in the village. We should cry from embarrassment, cry from embarrassment! If Muhammad and Mustafa the murderers from Hezbollah don’t let their wives dress like this — what they’re better than us?”

Much like the Satmar rabbi who studied Causative Holistic Medicine at the Institute of Blame Women the Ladies Rabbi, Yosef Mizrachi, believes that tumors and cancerous cells are direct results of sin.

“Today, the number one cancer by women is breast cancer,” he explains (at around 49). “Second cancer for women, womb cancer. Third, brain cancer. The three parts that women make sins with men — the breast, the womb and the head — cancer goes over there.”
Well said.

The TVA video report associated with the story ended off with Zappa asking just how far freedom of speech can go. I believe these men should be allowed to spew their nonsense because silencing them compromises the very value we wish to protect.

On the flipside, these men should be ready to receive healthy doses of criticism and ridicule.

Monday, 16 February 2015

CFI Canada Condemns Violent Attack Against Freedom of Expression In Copenhagen

Flowers left at the front of the French embassy in Copenhagen after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. (source)
A quick note. In the wake of the Copenhagen shooting, which was an overt assault on freedom of expression, Centre for Inquiry Canada has released a statement.
Centre For Inquiry Canada sends its condolences to all people affected by yet another act of senseless violence, this time in Copenhagen.

CFIC condemns all violence perpetrated by individuals or groups. The latest death of one person and the injuries sustained by three police officers during a free speech debate in Copenhagen, attended by a controversial Swedish cartoonist, is another violent act perpetrated by a person or persons trying to stifle freedom of expression.

As a founding member of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws (ICABL), CFIC supports peoples’ right to caricature and criticize religions, ideologies or movements without being accused of blasphemy by a government or a religion.  Blasphemy laws should be abolished, so the charge of blasphemy or laws against it can no longer be an excuse for government sanctioned punishment or violence by an individual.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has published a statement regarding the violence and murders in Copenhagen.
You'll find this statement along with a condemnation of the Chapel Hill murders over at the CFI Canada page.

I plan to react to some of the sickeningly spineless media reaction to this attack in a future post.

via Veronica Abbass

Friday, 13 February 2015

Excellent Reads On Measles In Canada

This week, we learned that ten cases of measles in the province have been traced back to the Disney outbreak in California. All ten patients were not vaccinated, of course. Many of these are a 20 minute drive from me.

Feels a bit like I can see the train on its way down the tracks directly at me. This is precisely how the medical community felt in the middle of British Columbia's Bible Belt last year when cases began to pop up in a region riddled with granola crunching anti-vaxers and isolated needle eschewing religious communities.
Dr. Victoria Lee and her colleagues saw measles coming well before it struck B.C.’s eastern Fraser Valley last March. The virus was headed their way like a runaway train careening down a track—and hundreds of people were standing between the rails, refusing to budge. Anti-immunization beliefs flourish in many of the small religious communities that dot the countryside in what’s known as B.C.’s Bible Belt. Overall, about 70 per cent of two-year-olds in the Fraser Valley had all their recommended shots, but in some places vaccine coverage is close to zero. And with members of churches in the Dutch Reformed tradition regularly travelling back and forth to the Netherlands, where measles had been on the loose for months, infecting 2,600, landing 182 in hospital and killing one child, it was only a matter of time before an unvaccinated traveller brought the virus home. “We were monitoring pretty closely. We take even one case seriously,” Lee says.
This paragraph starts up an immensely informative article over at Macleans this week all about measles, vaccines, herd immunity, even the religious and anti-science angle -- they cover it all! Go read it! Share it!

Meanwhile, in Quebec, the government is doing what it can do to try to rattle some sense into the populace. Our premier, Philippe Couillard, who is a neurosurgeon, tried his best to explain.
"The message that we have to send Quebec parents is one of responsibility," Couillard said in Montreal. "Listen, we are on very solid scientific footing here when it comes to vaccinations."

Couillard added "the truth of vaccination is a huge progress in our society. Why don't we have polio anymore do you think?"
I suppose we don't have polio... for now. People are so forgetful about the situation in the past that it looks like it will take some catastrophe. People in British Columbia are already waking up and are now apparently clamouring for MMR vaccines.''

Meanwhile, in Quebec:
"As someone who has seen measles victims with serious complications, I cannot understand how we would want to expose ourselves to that, that we would want to expose our children to that," Couillard said.
It's nice having a doctor as a premier.

Canada's "Fox News North" Withers and Dies

We can all be thankful that Michael Coren's The Arena is, for the time being, off the airwaves.
So yesterday it was announced that Sun News Network -- the Fox News of the north -- is unceremoniously shutting down today.
Sun Media Corp. issued a statement saying it spent months unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer, but financial losses meant it could not continue to operate.

"This is an unfortunate outcome; shutting down Sun News was certainly not our goal," said Julie Tremblay, President and CEO of Media Group and Sun Media Corporation.

"Over the past four years, we tried everything we could to achieve sufficient market penetration to generate the profits needed to operate a national news channel. Sadly, the numerous obstacles to carriage that we encountered spelled the end of this venture," Tremblay said in a statement
Unlike it's counterpart in the United States, the right-of-centre Sun News couldn't find enough viewers and got dumped out the back door into the garbage bin like a bag of old smelly potatoes. Could it be that there is simply too much ambient common sense and logic in our country to support the channel?
Data released as part of that application showed that while the network was available to 5.1 million households, it was only attracting, on average, 8,000 viewers at any given time.
This is in a country of 30 million!

If you go to the website, you'll get nothing but the logo. If you tune in, you'll get this:

Aficionados of the station -- most likely older white dudes -- are screaming that it's because the CRTC did not force us poor beleaguered cable consumers to pick up the station, but rather made it required for cable providers to offer the station.
The federal broadcast regulator denied Sun News a guaranteed spot on basic cable TV packages in August  2013.
Apparently Big Government is totally okay in this instance.

Anyway, not enough people chose to buy the station, so the station is being shut down. Isn't this just capitalism in action? Wouldn't Ayn Rand be proud? It's just the invisible hand of the free market smacking some sense into the channel's creator, Quebecor.


No more Michael Coren screeching on against whiny atheists. What more do I need to brighten my day?

I guess this is some sort of consolation for John Stewart announcing his leave from the Daily Show. It's been a long week and it's nice to end it on a high note.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Quebec National Assembly Votes Unanimously in Support of Raif Badawi

Photo posted on Premiere Philip Couillard's Facebook page of the leaders of all major political parties in the National Assembly. The members of the National Assembly unite in support of the wife of Raif Badawi, Mrs Ensaf Haidar. (source)
For what it's worth -- and I sure hope it's worth something! -- support continues to grow in Quebec for the plight of jailed Saudi human rights activist Raif Badawi and his wife Ensaf Haidar's tireless struggle to see him freed. Today, the entire Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously for a motion in support of Raif Badawi.
The National Assembly has unanimously adopted a motion demanding the release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012.

The motion was passed in the presence of Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar, who obtained refugee status in Quebec along with her three children. The family lives in Sherbrooke.
It turns out that Premier Couillard has already plead Raif's case to the Saudi ambassador to Canada.
Couillard has said in the past that he has discussed the issue with the Saudi ambassador to Canada and that he pleaded on Badawi’s behalf alongside former Minister of Canadian Affairs Foreign Minister John Baird during his recent visit to Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.
The members resolved that both the provincial and the Canadian government should do everything in their power to free Raif, even if he nor Ensaf are (yet) Canadians.  The Premier make a clear call to action.
The motion calls on the governments of Quebec and Canada to do everything possible to secure Badawi’s freedom.

"We will not put our arms down. The democratic world has to say loud and clear that we don't want those practices to go again without any notice from the rest of the world," said Premier Philippe Couillard.
I've mentioned this before and perhaps I've missed the memo or something. Where's the unanimous support from the Canadian Parliament? Perhaps all that money from arms deals with Saudi Arabia still makes them nervous to speak up?

Montreal Gazette:
International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre said Badawi’s conviction is “cruel and inhuman.”

“Words cannot express our profound indignation at the conviction of this young man which is such a flagrant violation of his human dignity and his freedom of expression,” she said.

The unanimous motion will be sent to Canada’s Parliament, the department of foreign affairs and Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Ottawa.
Maybe this will be the memo they need?

Here's the text of this motion (page 9):
Du consentement de l’Assemblée pour déroger à l’article 185 du Règlement, Mme St-Pierre, ministre des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie, conjointement avec Mme Poirier (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve), Mme Roy (Arthabaska) et Mme David (Gouin), propose :

QUE l'Assemblée nationale condamne fermement la flagellation publique de M. Raif Badawi;

QUE l'Assemblée nationale exprime sa solidarité avec M. Badawi ainsi qu'avec sa conjointe, Mme Ensaf Haidar, et leurs trois enfants, Najwa, Miryiam et Tirad;

QUE l'Assemblée nationale demande aux gouvernements du Québec et du Canada de faire tout leur possible pour obtenir la libération de M. Badawi et lui permettre de rejoindre sa famille.

Du consentement de l’Assemblée, un débat s’ensuit.

Le débat terminé, la motion est mise aux voix; un vote par appel nominal est

La motion est adoptée par le vote suivant :

(Vote n° 65 en annexe) 54

Pour : 111 Contre : 0 Abstention : 0

THAT the National Assembly strongly condemns the public lashing of Mr. Raif Badawi;

THAT the National Assembly expresses solidarity with Mr. Badawi as well as with his partner, Mrs Ensaf Haidar, and their three children, Najwa, Miryiam and Tirad;

THAT the National Assembly asks the governments of Quebec and of Canada to do everything within their power to achieve the liberation of Mr. Badawi and that he be allowed to return to his family.


For: 111 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
Right, so you're next, Mr. Harper.

If you understand French, you can see the introduction of this resolution in this video. She is directing the other members to read about Badawi's plight at Amnesty International and asking them all to help. You can see the emotion in the chamber.

Raïf Badawi : une motion adoptée à l'Assemblée nationale

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Montreal Mayor Invites Pope to City's 375th Birthday

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre inviting the Pope to Montreal. (source)
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, fresh from visiting the site of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, briefly met the Pope -- who, in the wake of the Paris attacks, reminded us that anyone who makes fun of one's religion deserves a good ol' punch! During the minute or so meeting, he invited the Pope to Montreal's 375th Birthday bash in 2017 -- cuz Catholicism has a long history in this city. Well, I cannot argue there.

Veronica Abbass brings up the Quiet Revolution in a piece reacting to this news over at Canadian Atheist. Quebec was literally a Catholic theocracy which brought it to a breaking point during the end of the socially conservative Maurice Duplessis government in the late fifties. This is a time referred to as la Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkness). Oh yeah, Quebec and the Catholic Church go back a long way!

So, the head of Montreal handed the Pope this letter. Here's a few interesting extracts.
La Ville de Montréal fêtera en 2017 le 375e anniversaire de sa fondation qui a eu lieu le 17 mai 1642. La mission d'évangélisation et de conversion des Amérindiens qui a mené à la fondation de Ville-Marie... 
The City of Montreal will celebrate in 2017 the 375th anniversary of its foundation, which occurred the 17th of May, 1642. The mission of evangelization and conversion of the American Indians which led to the foundation of Ville Marie...
In the letter, the mayor seems convinced that the Pope is a symbol of loving tolerance for free speech and freedom of thought.
Mais les tristes événements récents de Paris, d'Afrique ou ceux qui se sont produits au Canada, entre autres, nous rappellent combien il importe que les gouvernants ainsi que les leaders religieux envoient des messages de tolérance et de respect de l'autre ainsi que du respect de la liberté de pensée et d'expression.

However, the sad recent events in Paris, Africa or those which occurred in Canada, among others, remind us how it is important that governments as well as religious leaders express messages of tolerance and respect of the other as well as respect of freedom of thought and expression.
You mean like this?
"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith," Pope Francis said in response to a question about the Paris terror attacks during a press conference aboard his plane on the way to Manila, Philippines.

He was unequivocal that nothing could justify the massacre in Paris, but suggested the magazine had gone too far.

Using an analogy, the pope said if a dear friend were to utter "a swear word against my mother, he's going to get a punch in the nose. That's normal."

"There are so many people who speak badly about religions, who make fun of them... they are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to (my dear friend) if he says a word against my mother."
Or like this?
The Pope is “shocked” by Malta’s Civil Unions Bill, which will allow gay couples to adopt children, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna has told The Sunday Times of Malta.
Or this?
As Slovakia gears up for a referendum on same-sex unions this coming weekend, Pope Francis gave his blessing to the country's efforts to block marriage and adoption rights for gay couples.
Or this?
“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’.

“How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
Or this?
"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.
 Or this?
Pope Francis has denounced the right to die movement, saying it's a "false sense of compassion" to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when in fact it's a sin against God and creation.
Or this?
In advance of a vast rally on Sunday that could draw as many as 6 million people, the pope called on families to be “sanctuaries for respect for life”, and praised the church for maintaining its opposition to modern birth control, even if all Catholics could not live by such rules.
Sounds totally compatible with modern-day secular, multicultural 21st century Montreal, doesn't it? No, not really. Sounds more like a throwback to la Grande Noirceur.

While Quebec is definitely a secular province, it seems like mayors are a whole other breed. You've got the 2005 lighting of the Mont Royal crucifix purple to mark John Paul II's death and that guy in Saguenay.

via Veronica Abbass, Canadian Atheist

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Rex Murphy Does Good Thing! Clobbers Jenny McCarthy & Anti-Vax!

Jenny McCarthy

Before Rex Murphy ranted about those whiney atheists, I didn't much care for him. After that, I settled on disliking him. Well, now he's made a very worthy rant against anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy (Jenny McCarthy Body Count) and anti-vaxxers in general. 

As the father of an autistic child and the husband of an autistic woman, I have a special black pit in my heart reserved for McCarthy, so Rex has gotten himself out of the doghouse with me. He's living -- assuming he is still actually physically alive -- in the back porch now.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Huge Supreme Court Victory For Dying With Dignity

Amazing news from the Supreme Court today! They ruled in a unanimous 9-0 decision to strike down laws against physician assisted suicide in cases where the patient is enduring intolerable suffering.
The Supreme Court of Canada says a law that makes it illegal for anyone to help a person commit suicide should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations.

The ruling only applies to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who clearly consent to ending their lives.
The ruling should be blindingly evident and reasonable -- read merciful - to anyone who has any compassion for those who are in unendurable suffering.
"This would create a 'duty to live,' rather than a 'right to life,' and would call into question the legality of any consent to the withdrawal or refusal of lifesaving or life-sustaining treatment," the court wrote in the decision.

​"An individual's choice about the end of her life is entitled to respect."

The court also found an individual's response to "a grievous and irremediable medical condition" is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy. The law already allows palliative sedation, refusing artificial nutrition and hydration and refusing life-sustaining medical equipment.

"And, by leaving people ... to endure intolerable suffering, it impinges on their security of the person," the court wrote.
Of course, to those who respect lofty and abstract ideas of the sanctity of life over the desires of those who wish to end their own intolerable suffering -- or perhaps have an internalized fetish for human suffering? -- are screaming the world will come to an end. This would be our good friend Margaret Somerville. Here's her reaction today:
"Canada has fallen over the edge of the abyss in legalizing the intentional infliction of death on our most vulnerable citizens - those who are old, frail, disabled, depressed, mentally, physically, or terminally ill," Somerville said.

The founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University calls it a slippery slope that will result in the death of those whose lives are determined to be "not worth living."

"This is not an incremental change, but a seismic shift in one of our most important foundational values - respect for human life at both the individual and societal levels," she said. "I believe that future generations will look back on this decision, in the light of its future consequences, as the most important, harmful and regrettable ethical, legal and public policy decisions of the 21st century."
Most of these people have lived lives worth living and they wish to keep living them to the very point at which it becomes completely unbearable. Then they wish to die peacefully so their suffering doesn't trap them in a daily nightmare of pain -- a sort of hell on earth.

I would rather not have my ability to end my own suffering be at the whim of someone else's romanticized imaginings of the supreme importance of living at any cost whatsoever. I want the freedom to determine when to end my life which is not controlled by any outside supernatural agency.

Queens University Course Taught By Anti-Vaxxer

Still from CBC report shows a class slide purporting that vaccines could cause Autism.
Full disclosure, I'm a McGill alumnus. This means I've been conditioned to hold a certain level of disdain for Queens University -- it's one of Canada's oldest rivalries, I have no control over it.

Still, I didn't expect Queens to have let a woo-believing, pseudo-scientific anti-vaxxer teach their first year Health course. The students are demanding the information in the course be fact checked and the University administration seems to have admitted that they don't actually know what the instructor's actual qualifications are! They're investigating now.

It appears that Melody Torcolacci isn't a doctor or a trained health expert of any kind. She's a former shot put champion and track teacher!
"The knowledge portrayed in the slide show for this course in no way meets the scholarly objectives set forth by the university," said Colin Zarzour, academic affairs commissioner for the society.

"Students and professors from Queen's and elsewhere are deeply, deeply concerned by the fact it's being taught in a university-level course and specifically that students are being graded on this."
A quick look at gives a few insightful student reviews.
Mel is a very nice lady and is absolutely a sweetheart!! She is very accommodating. Whenever you ask for help, she is happy to explain things. Though in lectures, she often reads directly off her slides. Some facts in this class are questionable, as some of the sources she cites are out of date or the link is broken, so you cannot check the facts.
Although the class was relatively easy, she is so uneducated about what she is teaching! She references disproven studies, and has dated information. She beliefs all the health myths we should be busting! I genuinely think she does not have the credentials.
A lot of them are like that. The Overall Quality is just a 2.7/5.0 while Average Grade is A!

It's a shame the students need to police their own first level courses at Queens(!) -- unless this is some kind of innovative learning exercise? Although I reserve the right to be unimpressed with Queens (the rivalry), hats off to the students!

Holy Crap! Brampton Does The Right Thing Again!

In my last post about the Lord's Prayer situation in Brampton, I noted that because a few upset citizens got 5,000 people to sign a petition, the city would inevitably cave to public opinion rather than follow the law.
Anyway, the city has voted to send this question back to committee for discussion. This almost certainly means they'll cave if people don't start come out in favour of secularism or else threaten legal action somehow.
Refreshingly, it seems like I underestimated Mayor Linda Jeffrey's intestinal fortitude! The committee discussed and voted to not put back the Lord's Prayer!
At a committee meeting Wednesday delegates called for the reinstatement after council chambers were packed last week with angry residents demanding the prayer be brought back. They were told it would be dealt with and a 9-2 vote closed the door on the issue, for now. A vote was taken and passed to hold a public meeting on the issue in April. It will now take a two-thirds majority vote of council to re-open the issue after the public meeting is held.
The Mayor had this utterly kickass statement as well:
“This term of council cannot be occupied dealing with issues that the province has already dealt with. We have incredible challenges ahead of us: jobs, how we’re going to keep taxes in line, transit and gridlock, how to pay for badly needed infrastructure, new funding models, and instilling a culture of transparency and accountability. We cannot afford to get distracted the way we unfortunately have in the past. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but religious issues should not be our focus.

Freaking exactly!

Here's hoping the Supreme Court doesn't bungle up the case against our favourite mayor in Saguenay now.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Dennis Markuze Sentencing Delayed Until June

Dennis Markuze
Yesterday, Hemant Mehta reported that Dennis Markuze would finally be sentenced for his relentless online harassments and death threats against atheist bloggers and websites. Luckily, my little blog seems to have stayed well under his radar.

The sentencing was supposed to happen today, but it turns out -- regrettably -- it has been delayed until June!

The lawyers involved were prepared to make a joint sentencing recommendation in November but it was put off because Boyer had handled several other cases that same day and ran out of time to hear the recommendation. The hearing was rescheduled to proceed Thursday but the judge was informed that a psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital has asked to testify in the case before Markuze is sentenced.

Boyer agreed to set June 3 as a date to hear the psychiatrist’s testimony.
I get it. Markuze is clearly not mentally well. However, one needs to balance his right to a fair sentencing with the level of stress and safety worries of atheist bloggers out there. Although I've never been targeted by him, I do live in Montreal and it does concern me.

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