Showing posts with label quebec. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quebec. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Quebec Pastafarian's Discrimination Case Thrown Out For "Wasting Court's Time"

So here in Quebec, a judge - one Stéphane Sansfaçon (Stephane NoWay) - has thrown out a Montreal Pastafarian's discrimination case and accused her of wasting the court's resources.
“Too many people implicated in real litigation with consequences that could affect their lives or those of their children or enterprise are waiting their turn in court for us to be silent about the monopolization of these resources to determine if the plaintiff can be photographed wearing a colander or pirate hat,” he said.

“We forget too often that the courts are a public service with limited resources that must not be abused.”
The timing of this really couldn't be better, considering the recent controversy about Muslim women being allowed to wear their Niqabs while swearing oaths, citizenship, etc.

In fact, I mentioned this I wrote recently in a Facebook comment about how I would have no problem whatsoever with anyone wearing any headgear to drivers license offices or swearing in ceremonies - so long as no religion was privileged over other faiths or atheists:
I'm perfectly fine with allowing people to wear any head covering they feel fit at swearing in ceremonies and at government offices when ID is required. In fact, I would love to see a discussion divorced entirely from religion where we simply discuss how much this would cost and who's paying - or how it could be implemented with no extra cost. Once this is implemented, women can choose to wear niqabs or Storm Trooper masks at their swearing in ceremonies. Then perhaps this guy any others like him would get justice as well.

In other words, a properly secular country would work towards a security protocol for supporting generic head and face coverings. Then they would figure out how to implement it so that any extra required labour or staff or ceremonies etc would be paid for - preferably by those who wish the service. Of course, this will never happen because governments like to use these issues as wedge issues for their own gain.
Well, Mr. Sansfaçon is not interested in this. He doesn't see Pastafarianism as a real religion. I assume this is because there are not as many Pastafarians as Muslims, or maybe because there aren't as many buildings for worship or wars fought in His Noodly Appendage's Name. I would argue that both religions make about the same amount of sense.
Judge Sansfaçon said the fact she had a valid driver’s licence while wearing the accoutrements of her “religion” meant there was no real question to decide.
Sarcastic air quotes are not mine.

The Pastafarian in question is Isabelle Narayana, who was not able to wear the colander of her own religion but was allowed to come back dressed up like a Muslim Pirate.
Narayana, who claimed to belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster whose members are known as Pastafarians, went to court after the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) said she couldn’t wear a colander or pirate hat in the photo. She’d shown up to renew her permit at an SAAQ office in March 2014, in full pirate attire, but was denied. Only medical or religious exceptions are allowed to the no-head-covering rule.

Narayana argued that since the exception applies to Muslim women, it should apply to her as well, given her religious affiliation. Court was told she subsequently showed up at an SAAQ office for the photo wearing a head scarf, which she told the court was the costume of a female pirate who happened to be Muslim. The head scarf met SAAQ rules and the photo was taken, but she said she still wanted the court to rule on whether her rights were violated by the original denial.

Yes, this is funny, but there is satire here and with it comes a disturbing truth. The judge seems to have missed the point here. This demonstrates precisely what I do not wish to have happen. When you specify that religious people get free exemption from certain laws or obligations, the State then needs to somehow pick and choose what's a religion and what's not a religion.

(Image source)

Friday, 18 September 2015

CFI Canada Expresses Strong Concerns About Proposed 'Anti-Hate' Bill 59

CFI Canada has an excellent post on their blog where they break down what they find disturbing about the proposed Quebec Bill 59, which I've expressed concerned about as well as Jerry Coyne, who is rightly calling it an anti-blasphemy law.

Essentially, the Bill attempts to introduce more severe punishments for hate speech along with a permanent registry of haters that could be accessed by the public. This might not seem too bad at first glance, but the problem is that the legislation seems to be leaving the determination of what does constitute hate speech to the province's human rights commission - rather than the existing criminal code. As I've written before, the head of the commission is a political activist with an agenda to quell any criticism of religion - more specifically Islam.

Even at least three prominent Muslim groups are concerned about the legislation and how the registry could potentially destroy the lives of people - both Muslim and non-Muslim.

After breaking down the reasons for their concern, the CFI concludes:
Bill 59 is a problematic proposal which implements measures that may easily be abused or misused by groups interested to stifle criticism of religion or religious figures. It is important to investigate not only the interplay between sections of the act itself, but also their effect-on and interaction-with the other legislation.  For example, this proposed legislation is subject to precedents and definitions established in prior rulings by The Supreme Court of Canada and other relevant federal legislation.  These legal precedents would be sources on such matters as the definition and scope of hate speech.

Another example of the problematic complexity of this proposed bill is in the interplay of the separate section.  If a person or organization is accused through Sections 2 and/or 3 and has their name added to the list described in Section 17, how might that relate to Section 24′s notation that the organization or person may be “considered to exhibit behaviour that could reasonable pose a threat for the physical or emotional safety of the students.”?
(Image source)

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Raif Badawi Foundation For Freedom Created Here In Montreal

Ensaf Haidar at the foundation's launch in Berlin on Friday.
Ensaf Haidar wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi launched the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom (Fondation Raif Badawi pour la liberté) in Berlin. Friday's event was simulcast to a second opening ceremony in Montreal.
The announcement was made successively in Germany and in Montreal. The President, Mrs. Ensaf Haidar, Mr. Badawi’s spouse, was in Berlin to meet with dignitaries in order to gain their support regarding her husband’s liberation, atop of taking part in the press conference. “I am truly grateful for the support that has emerged across the world for the Foundation. This justifies in my opinion, its very existence and its necessity,” declared Mrs Haidar. “Its goal happens to embody Raif’s values, who would be very happy to see that his struggle is a concern for so many people around the world,” added Mrs. Haidar. It is to be noted that Mr. Badawi will be honorary president of the Foundation.
The foundation's stated mission:
The Foundation serves as a free platform enabling international dialogue as well as a resource centre providing academic research on legal and social topics concerning the Arab World.
You can purchase Raif Badawi's book on the site as well as make donations via Paypal. The foundation has also stated that it will never accept a donation of more than 30% of its total budget so it can remain unbought.

You can follow the latest from the foundation on their Facebook page.

This is awesome and it can do nothing but step up the pressure for cases like Badawi's. I also believe it will help other secular bloggers - the way our Office of Religious Freedom and Department of Foreign Affairs has not.

If you would like to read more, check out Veronica Abbass' and Hemant Mehta's posts on this.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Richard Dawkins Weighs In Against Quebec "Anti-Hate" Bill-59

Back in August, I expressed my grave concerns with a proposed piece of anti-hate legislation here in Quebec, Bill 59. The main problem was its utter failure to define what hate speech was. Instead it left it up to committee - which on its own is the ultimate evil.
But the legislation also faced a lot of criticism, notably for failing to define what “hate speech” is, and leaving it up to the human rights commission to decide how much proof it needs to sanction someone.
That's pretty scary, because these folks aren't Supreme Court judges. In fact, the head of this commission wants to stamp out anti-Islamic speech.
The bill takes its inspiration from recommendations made public by the QHRC in November 2014. Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, explained that he planned to use the requested powers to sue those critical of certain ideas, “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page.”
Yes, this is really an anti-blasphemy law. And furthermore...
Frémont is an unabashed legal activist, who sees the QHRC’s mandate as “provoking a social change” and “making the law.” (“You will make the law with difficult cases, risky cases,” he said at a March conference at the Université de Montréal.) In support of such stringent censorship he cites resolutions adopted by UN bodies. But the only UN body pressing for this measure is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an Islamist consortium that equates criticism of Islam with hate speech. The OIC’s member nations have nothing to teach any democratic society in the way of “inclusion,” “openness” and “living together,” all justifications for Bill 59 made by Premier Couillard.
We're talking about countries like Saudi Arabia, here.

So today Richard Dawkins expressed his concern as well... as only Richard can.
Okay, so like many of Dawkins' previous tweets, I do not give him points for tact. I'd also like to point out that although this Frémont seems to be taking his cue from the OIC, several Muslim groups in Quebec have expressed the very same concerns I have about the bill's lax definition of hate speech. So the only people who seem to like this are the extremists.

Still, it's nice to see Dawkins shining an international light on this situation. Hopefully this new level of scrutiny will kill this pernicious bill, which as Kyle Shideler in the somewhat dubious looking right wing Town Hall website (to which Dawkins links) reminds us:
In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13, of Canada’s Human Rights Act. The elimination of that odious and censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly “offending” Muslims.

But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring “blasphemous” speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.
Indeed, this is not an anti-hate bill, it is an anti-blasphemy bill with teeth. Fines of up to 10,000$ can be levied and you can have your name put onto a permanent public registry as a hater.

(Image source)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Quebec Muslim Groups Also Concerned About Bill 59

Well this is interesting. Remember that new anti-hate-speech Bill 59 that I wrote about a few days ago? My main concern was that a proper definition of hate speech was nowhere to be found in the bill and was left completely up to the Quebec Human Rights commission.

It turns out that several Muslim groups in Quebec also have problems with the bill for the very same reason I do. They are concerned about this definition being left arbitrarily up to some commission.
For Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, the law has its merits. He said the bill can turn out to be positive for Quebec’s society, but it’s not completely clear.

“We are looking for some clarifications of definitions. What exactly is hate speech? We would really like for this to be clarified,” he said.
What's notable about this is that the bill is intended to protect Muslim groups - yet at least three prominent groups have serious problems with it. Listening to them is like hearing myself with my own problems with the bill as a secularist. I guess bad policy can unite us all.
But Salam Elmenyawi of the Muslim Council of Montreal feels the bill isn't necessary.

“There's no need for a new regulation, especially if we're not using the old one. We already have the right tools in the criminal code,” he said.

And while the anti-hate speech bill is partly an effort to fight Islamophobia, Elmenyawi fears it could end up unfairly targeting the Muslim community.

“A lot is left for the discretion of a civil servant in an administrative process that can destroy somebody's life,” he said.
Precisely. On the one hand, it can destroy the life of some anti-democracy fundamentalist Muslim cleric in Montreal who's got problems with atheists voting or gay people. On the other, it can stigmatize an atheist blogger like me. We should all be allowed to speak our minds so others have a reasonable idea what's going on between our ears and can open the gates of criticism and ridicule if necessary.

If you ask me, I think this bill is nothing more than an attempt to gain political points. Still, it's taking something which already works pretty well - even according to the minority it's primarily supposed to protect - and muddying it up with potentially dangerous consequences for free speech in Quebec.

(Image source)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Powerful VICE Quebec Interview With Ensaf Haidar

Ensaf Haidar. Fridays are the day of public flogging in Saudi Arabia.
VICE Quebec has released an amazing, informative and powerful interview with Ensaf Haidar jailed Saudi secular blogger Raif Badawi, who is fighting to get her husband out of prison from her new home in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Give this a watch, it will answer any questions you have concerning the situation.

It also goes into the foul hypocrisy of Canada and other nations in one breath condemning Saudi's obvious blatant violations of human rights while in another happily taking billions of riyals for arms deals. She handles the question regarding this with great grace.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Quebec's Proposed Anti-Hate Speech Bill Is Cause For Concern

I run an atheist, perhaps even anti-theist blog, which would certainly be shut down in a country like Saudi Arabia or Turkey. In Saudi Arabia, they equate atheists with terrorists, while in Egypt atheism is considered a kind of extremism against Islam by authorities.

The Quebec government has tabled Bill 59An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals. This sounds okay, but it's worrisome, because what can constitute hate speech is rather vague.
The Act provides for the prohibition of hate speech and speech inciting violence that are engaged in or disseminated publicly and that target a group of people sharing a common characteristic identified as prohibited grounds for discrimination under section 10 of the Charter of human rights and freedoms. Acting in such a manner as to cause such types of speech to be engaged in or disseminated is also prohibited. The Act introduces a procedure for reporting such speech to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse which includes measures for protecting people who report it, and grants the Commission new powers, including powers of investigation. The Commission is allowed to apply for a court order requiring such speech to cease. New responsibilities are therefore assigned to the Human Rights Tribunal, including the responsibility for determining whether a person has engaged in or disseminated such speech or acted in such a manner as to cause such acts to be committed and, if applicable, to determine the amount of the monetary penalties applicable. If the Tribunal concludes that a person has contravened those prohibitions, the person’s name is entered, for the time determined by the Tribunal, on a list kept by the Commission and available on the Internet. In addition, the Charter of human rights and freedoms is amended to introduce the prohibition against engaging in or disseminating such speech targeting an individual, thus rendering the reporting procedure under the Charter applicable.
In a previous post, I defined hate speech like this:
Now he's getting more flak because he went on television and said some stuff... energetically... well, sort of like someone targeting a specific a-religious minority. You know, it sort of sounded a little bit like a direct call to suppression of and/or violence towards a minority. I guess you might actually call it hate speech, if you're into that sort of thing.
Notice I tend to lean more on the side of inciting violence. I find it worrisome that the bill mentions both separately. I also find it worrisome that similar sorts of prohibition seem to be used in countries like Bangladesh to silence atheist bloggers - because their words apparently incite hate and violence.

There is already a law against hate speech here in Canada. Bill 59 adds extra teeth to this law. I would be able to make a clear decision about whether or not I'm for this law if someone could properly define hate speech for me. I've been looking around the stories concerning Bill 59 and I haven't really seen anything that lays out what hate speech is. It seems to be left to the discretion of the Quebec human rights commission.
But Bill 59 — “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence” — would introduce a procedure for reporting hate speech to the Quebec human rights commission and would grant the commission new powers, including the power to investigate.
Essentially, the commission can act on a private complaint and themselves determine whether or not something constitutes hate speech.
But the legislation also faced a lot of criticism, notably for failing to define what “hate speech” is, and leaving it up to the human rights commission to decide how much proof it needs to sanction someone.

Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Voltaire could all be found to have incited violence and hatred, said Grey. Should they have been censored?

He and Latour argued that the Bill was dangerous and invasive. It allowed for anonymous complainants and a public list of those found guilty — forever available online.
In fact, the National Post makes an even more disturbing point:
Bill 59, on which consultations are to start next week, is far more worrisome. Bill 59 assigns new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to combat hate speech, as well as a variety of other provisions meant to protect against extremism, by censoring speech that promotes “fear of the other.” Ominously, the bill would allow the QHRC to pursue websites that in its estimation describe and denounce Islamism.

The bill takes its inspiration from recommendations made public by the QHRC in November 2014. Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, explained that he planned to use the requested powers to sue those critical of certain ideas, “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page.”
This is very much not a good thing and it's very much like the situation in some countries I do not wish to live in.
Frémont is an unabashed legal activist, who sees the QHRC’s mandate as “provoking a social change” and “making the law.” (“You will make the law with difficult cases, risky cases,” he said at a March conference at the Université de Montréal.) In support of such stringent censorship he cites resolutions adopted by UN bodies. But the only UN body pressing for this measure is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an Islamist consortium that equates criticism of Islam with hate speech. The OIC’s member nations have nothing to teach any democratic society in the way of “inclusion,” “openness” and “living together,” all justifications for Bill 59 made by Premier Couillard.
I don't know how much of this concern is immediately legitimate, because I've actually agreed with Jacques Fremont when he came down hard on child welfare concerning the Lev Tahor case not long ago. Still, this illustrates an important point. Do we want to leave such an important definition to a commission? This is plenty of power to silence freedom of speech, in the interest of social harmony (like in Singapore) given to a small group.

Lots of minority groups realize that if such a commission is to have such power to determine what's hate and what's not, they had better get on the group or at least help define the parameters.
Some groups are upset that they were not invited to speak at the National Assembly during the hearings. Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said he was alarmed because the current list fails to illustrate the diversity of Quebec.

“It is missing all of the groups,” Majzoub said. “They are Quebecers at the end of the day, but we don’t hear from them at all.”

Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, says his organization has launched a special request to be heard. He is concerned that the hearings fail to include minorities who are often the targets of hate speech.
I hope groups like CFI Canada and Atheist Freethinkers also manage to get into this discussion, since I worry that their own websites might someday be shut down by an over-zealous commission.

I'm very worried indeed.

In the end, I want to make it clear that I do not condone violence or discrimination against any minority group - whether they be religious or atheist or any other protected class. It's a good idea on paper, but how can we properly implement such a thing without interfering with people's right to expression? In a civil society, everyone needs the right to criticize the ideas and beliefs of everyone else - this is how a democracy works.

(Image source)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Why Did Child Welfare Agencies Pussy-Foot Around With The Lev Tahor Case?

The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lev Tahor, fled Quebec back in 2013 because the province was trying to get them to allow their children a balanced education where they learned more than Yiddish and the Talmud. They went to Ontario for awhile, but then eventually fled mostly to Guatemala.

They were about to have their children taken away for not only violating their rights to a useful education but also real physical and mental abuse. We're talking about pee filled beds, forced taking of prescription drugs, forced under age marriages and extreme corporal abuse.

Well, a report was just released, concluding that child welfare agencies did a lousy job of protecting the well-being of the children.

The Montreal Gazette writes:
Camil Picard, the vice-president of youth issues for the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, said the delays in this case were “incomprehensible,” considering the fact it took 17 months for youth protection officials to move to seize the children after the problem was first identified.

It also took school board officials 15 months to take action to get proper schooling for the children in the community. The children were receiving a strictly religious education, and spoke neither English nor French. Picard said children have the right to receive a proper education, and if they don’t get that, youth officials must intervene.

“In this situation, it’s clear that the (parties) systematically failed in their role to protect the children, including health services, the education department and youth protection,” Picard said.
You can read about the extreme foot dragging over at CTVLaPresse and Radio Canada. It's awful.

Here's something I find a little nauseating though. It has to do with how certain, mostly English (Rest of Canada) news agencies report about religion, in particular. I'm sorry to report that I've seen it time and time again - a sort of freakish deference to religion exhibited by the anglo media.

The French stories I read all contain a reference by the commission's president, Jacques Frémont alluding to why the agencies may have been really soft on this cult. So soft and cautious, so as not to offend religious sensibilities that the very lives of the children were put into peril.

CTV is the only story I found in English to carry Fremont's comments on religion:
Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, said Thursday it appears “other considerations,” not the best interests of the children who were the subject of the hearings, played a role in the way the youth protection, school officials, social services and even the police handled the interventions with the community.
What were these other considerations?
Some of the issues the report highlighted include that youth protection and school officials spoke to community leaders instead of the parents, and school officials gave community leaders 15-months to comply to the law requiring children attend school. Lev Tahor children were homeschooled.

“Freedom of religion cannot – in any circumstances – be used as a pretext for abuse and neglect. It is therefore essential that, from now on, all organizations intervening in this type of environment better understand public interests involved and favour, in all cases, the protection of children's rights," he said.
This statement was missing from the Gazette and the CBC report, while always present in some form in the French sources I read. I wasn't the only one to notice this:

This article leaves out a key statement from the report:

« La liberté de religion ne peut en aucun cas constituer un prétexte pour la maltraitance ou la négligence. »

In English: "Freedom of religion can never constitute a pretext to abuse or neglect."

Why this omission?
How very curious, indeed! I wonder why the CBC and Gazette both missed this?

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sherbrooke Makes Raif Badawi Honourary Citizen

Wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar, with Sherbrooke Mayor Bernard Sévigny at Sherbrooke City Hall. (source)
Today, in front of Sherbrooke city hall, mayor Bernard Sévigny declared that Sherbrooke is Raif. Raif Badawi, jailed Saudi blogger and husband of Ensaf Haidar, was declared an honourary citizen of Sherbrooke in absentia only weeks after he was granted fast track Canadian citizenship (immigration selection certificate) by Quebec.

LaPresse Sherbooke Tribune writes:
Les deux banderoles, qui couvrent une partie de la façade de l'hôtel de ville, seront installées en permanence dans l'espoir que M. Badawi soit libéré. La première porte la mention « Sherbrooke est Raif », alors que la seconde indique « Raif Badawi citoyen de Sherbrooke ».

« Les membres du conseil municipal sont profondément touchés par le sort qui est réservé au Saoudien Raif Badawi. Sa condamnation a amené tous les Sherbrookois, tous les Canadiens et les citoyens de plusieurs nations à se lever et à revendiquer le droit à la liberté d'expression, pilier inéluctable de la démocratie », a commencé Bernard Sévigny.
The two banners, which cover part of the facade of city hall, will be installed permanently in hope that Mr Badawi will be liberated. The first declares that "Sherbrooke is Raif", while the second proclaims "Raif Badawi, citizen of Sherbrooke."
"The members of city council are profoundly touched by the Saudi Raif Badawi's predicament. His sentencing has led all residents of Sherbrooke, all Canadians and the citizens of many nations to stand up and defend the right to freedom of expression -- a fundamental pillar of democracy," said Bernard Sévigny.
There will be a vigil tomorrow at 12:30pm. This will be the 27th such weekly protest held before the city hall in Sherbrooke, where Ensaif Haidar has been welcomed with open arms by the community.
Les deux banderoles arborant le visage du blogueur saoudien se sont alors déroulées d'un coup, un symbole émouvant qui a beaucoup ému la conjointe de Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar. Les yeux humides et la voix étranglée par l'émotion, elle a remercié tous ceux qui posent un geste pour son conjoint. « Merci pour Raif. Je pense que c'est important pour Raif. Ça lui donne du courage et de l'espoir. Je suis très, très contente. C'est très important et très touchant. »
The two banners portraying the face of the Saudi blogger were unfurled simultaneously, a powerful symbol which greatly moved the wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf haidar. Eyes wet with tears, and voice quivering with emotion, she thanked all those who made this gesture for her husband. "Thank you on behalf of Raif. I think this is important for Raif. This gives him courage and hope. I am very, very happy. This is very important and very touching."

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Raif Badawi Book: New Quebec Edition & English Edition Foreward By Lawrence Krauss

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Editions ēdito in Quebec have put together and published some of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's most compelling online texts and the new edition is now available for purchase in bookshops across the province. It's titled 1000 coups de fouet: parce que j’ai osé parler librement ( 1000 Lashes: Because I Dared to Speak Freely ).
1000 coups de fouet, a collection of 14 texts by Badawi that landed him in jail in Saudi Arabia, was launched by Quebec publishing house Éditions Édito with Amnesty International on Tuesday. This follows releases in Germany and France and an English translation is in the works, according to the NGO.
The initial launch was Tuesday and was even attended by opposition Federal MP Hélène Laverdière, who is Deputy Critic For Foreign Affairs.
“It’s very sad to see that the Canadian government is not doing more,” said Hélène Laverdière NDP MP for Laurier–Sainte-Marie.
She went on to point out that Canada really ought to be doing more considering we're providing refuge for Badawi's wife and family. Hopefully, Harper won't respond by kicking them out.

If you can understand French, you can watch a video report on the launch over at Radio Canada.

Another Montreal book launch was yesterday and was even attended by some government officials.

The English edition, 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think,  is apparently on its way July 24th with a foreward by Lawrence Krauss!

The Gazette article about the Quebec edition I quoted above includes a few English translations to give you an idea of the sort of thing Badawi wrote that landed him into jail.
In reality, this august preacher drew our attention to a truth that had evaded us until then, from me and my honourable readers, that there exists “religious astronomers!” What a lovely and unusual name, since in my humble experience and from my research, which is not negligible on the subject of the universe, its origins and the planets, I never encountered these terms. I advise the American space agency NASA to abandon their telescopes and give them to our “religious astronomers,” whose perception and insight surpasses the defective telescopes of NASA.
You can find a list of release dates for the book over at -- Amazon links for countries and languages are there as well -- French and German are so far available.

I'll just add that it sort of pains me a little that I see so much action here in Quebec on this, but not too much outside. Perhaps it's because Ensaf Haidar is here? Well, at least they are being made to feel welcome.

You can find information on the Quebec Edito edition at there website.

Quebec edition. (source)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Quebec Liberals Table New Government Neutrality Bill

Please know the difference. (source)
Remember the Quebec Charter of Values (aka Quebec Secular Charter)? According to the rest of Canada, the crushing defeat of the Parti Quebecois in the last election was a clear signal against the Charter -- or whatever. They wish!

This is, of course, what they would like to believe and it is not rooted in reality. The Charter was probably the only policy the party had that had broad support in the province (well, among Francophones, at least). The PQ lost when they uttered the word separation. That killed them.

I always felt uneasy with that old attempt at government neutrality because it seemed to focus so extremely on wardrobe and so little on things which I thought better belong in a secular charter; like tax breaks for clergy, churches, religious institutions. Private religious schools would no longer get government subsidies. Crucifixes and other symbols would be removed from city halls and national assemblies. Orthodox religious cults would no longer be allowed to run their own illegitimate schools and deprive children of secular educations by starving out real world subjects with endless recitation of ancient texts.

Well, the Quebec Liberals understand that this charter was about the only thing the PQ had going for them. So they begrudgingly promised to make their own neutrality bill.
Quebec is again taking steps aimed at barring public servants from wearing face-covering religious garments at work, and preventing members of the public from covering their faces while receiving government services.
You can tell I picked an Anglophone news site, which might as well have come from the rest of Canada, because of the negative light they put this essentially reasonable legislation in. There's no happy mention of the benefits of a neutral state here -- oh no! -- the CBC is totally down with my being unable to even see the eyes of whoever is working at the motor licensing bureau.

What a terrible law! No, wait, it's just requiring that people show their faces when serving or getting served at a government office or within a government paid service -- with some educational institution exceptions. Well, it's not as far as I would like it to go (see above), but I'm okay with this.

First off, we must realize the vast amount of confusion within the (mostly liberal) western world when it comes to Muslim women's attire. Please consult the above chart where you'll find that the hijab and chador would be perfectly fine, while the burqa and niqab, not so much. Also take a look at this post where we discover many people on social media defending women's rights to wear niqabs by wearing hijabs.

Also, only the most extreme Islamic countries require anything more than a simple hijab.

Now go read the bill. Meanwhile, here are the Explanatory Notes:
The purpose of this bill is to establish measures to foster
adherence to State religious neutrality. For that purpose, it provides,
in particular, that personnel members of public bodies must
demonstrate religious neutrality in the exercise of their functions,
being careful to neither favour nor hinder a person because of the
person’s religious affiliation or non-affiliation. However, this duty
does not apply to personnel members who, in certain bodies, provide
spiritual care and guidance services or are in charge of providing
instruction of a religious nature.

Under the bill, personnel members of public bodies and of certain
other bodies must exercise their functions with their face uncovered,
unless they have to cover their face, in particular because of their
working conditions or because of occupational or task-related
requirements. In addition, persons receiving services from such
personnel members must have their face uncovered. An accommodation
is possible but must be refused if the refusal is warranted in the context
for security or identification reasons or because of the level of
communication required.

The bill establishes the conditions under which accommodations
on religious grounds may be granted as well as the specific elements
that must be considered when dealing with certain accommodation

It specifies that the measures it introduces must not be interpreted
as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s
cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that
testify to its history.

Lastly, special measures with respect to educational childcare
services are introduced to ensure that, among other considerations,
children’s admission is not related to their learning a specific religious
belief, dogma or practice and that the activities organized by
subsidized childcare providers do not involve learning of a religious
or dogmatic nature.

Some of the opt out and special accommodation exemptions in the bill strike me as highly vague -- kind of like the Liberal party's platforms.

Still, not exactly cutting the tax exemptions or shutting the private schools out of public funding -- especially if they do not teach the province's comparative religion course -- but it's baby steps. I can live with it.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Quebec Grants Raif Badawi Fastrack Immigration - What's Harper's Excuse Going to Be Now?

Today, Quebec has once again proven itself to be a friend of jailed Saudi activist blogger Raif Badawi. Now that all hope is practically lost -- the Saudi Supreme Court upheld the barbarous sentence of 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison, and $200,000 -- Quebec has granted Badawi an immigration selection certificate. They are telling the world that Badawi and his family are welcome in Quebec.
The Quebec government has granted imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi a selection certificate, a first step meant to speed up his immigration process.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil called Badawi's treatment "cruel and unusual" and used her discretionary power to held speed up his immigration to Canada.  
"Quebec is behind Raif Badawi," said Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, who used a special discretionary power to grant the certificate.
Like their vote in support of Badawi back in February, today's motion went through with unanimous agreement across all parties. Listen, in highly political Quebec, you never see that sort of agreement between the parties.

While Quebec is most certainly the friend of Badawi and his brave wife and family, it very much seems like Prime Minister Harper would much rather ignore this situation so he can sell over 15 billion dollars worth of militarized vehicles to the Saudis

Maybe what would explain how getting the Canadian government to say anything even slightly more than downright grovely towards the Saudis concerning human rights has been harder than pulling teeth. They've done nothing more than ask the Saudis for clemency. I guess it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you -- although the Swedish Foreign Minister did just that and feels no remorse.

Meanwhile, in Canada:
Badawi's detention and sentence have stirred up worldwide condemnation. Quebec politicians unanimously adopted a motion in February calling for his immediate release.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also spoken out against Badawi's treatment, but has said Ottawa's influence is limited by the fact he is not a Canadian citizen.
So why not grant him Canadian citizenship then? What will Harper's excuse be then? Or will his mouth be too stuffed with Saudi riyals to even utter an intelligible word?

The Saudis obviously still feel the heat of international disgust -- Badawi received no lashes today. However, they are likely to resume. Perhaps political expressions like this will eventually influence them. If not, then at least we can say we tried.

Edit 2015-05-12 5pm EST: 

The Saudis are reacting to world government statements about Raif Badawi sort of poorly. Here was the reaction on Thursday to the world's indignation.
An official source at the Foreign Ministry condemned statements by some countries and international organizations regarding the case of Saudi citizen Raef Badawi, although the judiciary or any official body in the Kingdom has not issued any statement on his case.

“The judiciary is independent in the Kingdom,” the source said, adding that Saudi Arabia will not accept any interference in its jurisdiction or internal affairs by any party.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Church Having Problems Finding New Location Because They Don't Pay Taxes

United Pentecostal Church in St-Laurent, Quebec. (source: Google Maps)
There was a highly sympathetic story done by CTV News last night for the United Pentecostal Church in my home borough of St-Laurent. The church has been doing very well and has completely outgrown their building, which seats 600 with a congregation of some 1,200 people. This puts them within reach of the megachurch designation -- a big deal for secular Quebec.
Pastor Paul Graham, who has been with the church for almost 40 years, tells CTV Montreal that the 600-seats are simply not enough for the 1,200-or-so who use the church but the borough has not made relocation easy
Take a look at the language in the story and you'll see a framing not unlike David vs Goliath

Listen, I can sympathize to a point. Dealing with city hall can be frustrating. In this case the church is looking for another location, but the city has so far refused to allow these said locations to be rezoned to places of worship.
Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa has said that the borough want to stick with its master plan and would prefer to avoid rezonings.
Their master plan is to try to maximize property taxes as much as possible and the pastor of the church, Paul Graham, is nice enough to remind us that churches don't pay property taxes. So the city would be going from a position of losing tax money on a 600 person building to a 1,200 person building -- a building the size of a retail store... likely with a parking lot to boot.

So it's nothing against Christians, per se. It's just that they're not paying their fair share -- assuming taxes are the reason.
Pastor Graham believes a big issue for the city is tax revenue. Property taxes aren't collected on places of worship.
Well no wonder I had to pay last year's property taxes in two instalments! I had to pay for the churches as well! If they would pay property taxes like the rest of us, the city wouldn't be giving them a hard time. They would welcome them with open arms just like any company. Problem solved!

I guess privileged status has it's downsides too, right?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Calgary Private School Possibly 'Inconsistent' But No Indication of Being 'Atheist'

Chris Selley wrote something over at the National Post about how if schools want to be atheist they should be consistent in their atheism. I think it's worth a look because it shows us that it's not only atheists (schools or people?)  who must be consistent, it's our entire system. Don't blame the atheists, okay?
If you run a private school with a position on religion, these are interesting times. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Montreal’s Loyola High School was entitled to teach Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum from a Catholic perspective — that is, it said Catholics were not required to treat Catholicism as just another faith. You might ask: Why would anyone enrol his children in a Jesuit school expecting it to be neutral about Catholicism? Why would a government that strives toward neutrality in matters of religion allow churches to run schools and then presume to tell them how to teach about religion? But this is the country we live in. Many of our governments subsidize the religious schools they’re trying to nudge away from their faiths.
It all sort of breaks down with the very first sentence and Selley knows it. He tries to remedy things by tagging on the last sentence. Let's play it back without all the goop in the middle.
If you run a private school with a position on religion, these are interesting times. ... ... Many of our governments subsidize the religious schools they’re trying to nudge away from their faiths.
Well, that just about sums it up, doesn't it? A huge problem here is we're calling these schools private when they're being subsidized heavily per student by the government. Whether the school be a Muslim academy teaching girls they cannot do track (because running will make them lose their virginity) or a Catholic school teaching that a virgin can give birth to the son of a god whose body becomes one with your Sunday morning communion wafer, it just shouldn't be funded by the government. We definitely shouldn't have this deliberately obscured by calling it a private school.

Let's get into the goo now.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Montreal’s Loyola High School was entitled to teach Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum from a Catholic perspective — that is, it said Catholics were not required to treat Catholicism as just another faith.
As I've mentioned before, this is one class... just one single class out of many. This would be perhaps the only class where the school would be required to present alternate religious beliefs without trashing them. Is this really too much to ask? Ultimately though, the school got their cake and they get to eat it too.

Commentor fabuloso puts it excellently:
The Loyola school was not forbidden to "teach Catholicism from a Catholic perspective"; it was, according the the Que. ministry, required to add One Mandatory Course to its curriculum that dealt with religion from a neutral or non-sectarian angle.

That requirement was there so that the Loyola students could receive an accredited degree in public education, with a few comparatives. Similarly, a cult that thought the world was Flat would need to add one course that proposed the Round Earth Theory.
 Surely this must be some form of sloppiness on Selley's part. Now for some more goo.
You might ask: Why would anyone enrol his children in a Jesuit school expecting it to be neutral about Catholicism? Why would a government that strives toward neutrality in matters of religion allow churches to run schools and then presume to tell them how to teach about religion?
I wouldn't expect it to be neutral about Catholicism, most of the time. I would expect them to abide by the education ministry's rules to insure my child gets properly educated on world religions. I would expect that especially since public dollars go into the school.

Look, I don't know how things work in Ontario or the rest of Canada. Here in Quebec, the state has a mandate to ensure a basic level of education for the children. I wonder what Selley thinks about the Quebec government meddling in the education of extreme Orthodox Jewish groups. Should they stand aside and allow children to be taught nothing but the Torah and Yiddish? Why does religion get a pass with Selley?

The first step is to stop public funding of religious schools and subsidies to students, point finale.

Now let's move on past the first freaking paragraph to the rest of the piece. The details of this case are from 2011, predating this blog. This will be my working excuse for having never heard of it.

It seems that there is this prestigious private school in Calgary, Webber Academy, which is attempting to be non-denominational. I have really no idea what that truly means. It could simply signify Christian-lite. Anyway, this school forbade two Muslim students from praying anywhere on the premises. The students went before a human rights tribunal and won. Now the school is stuck with a $26,000 fine and the students can presumably pray in the school.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission fined Webber Academy a total of $26,000 for distress and loss of dignity after the boys were forced to hide at the school or leave the property during the city’s chilly winter to fulfill their faith’s obligations.
Look, as an atheist, even I agree with the commission. So long as it's not lead by the school itself and the students do not get any special privileges and do it discretely somewhere on the premises -- hey, knock yourselves out.

Selley rightly points out that this school was fine with headscarfs and turbans, etc. It just had a problem with the physical action of praying. This was the primary inconsistency of the atheist school.
But it’s not hard to see why they lost. Webber claims visible religious practice is a direct affront to its central ethos, but its ethos doesn’t seem to be very coherent: It allows students to wear turbans and hijabs, for example. The school tried to distinguish between garments as “a state of ‘being'” and prayer as “a visible activity,” which the tribunal kiboshed on principle; but in any event the activity wouldn’t have been “visible” had the school provided a private space. And Neil Webber, the school’s president, certainly did himself no favours by suggesting a student quickly crossing himself might not be a problem.
In the end it can really be a matter of degree but that's not my issue. Selley is here saying that it's those who wish to run atheist schools who are being inconsistent. It's just that there is no indication whatsoever that the school administrators are the slightest bit atheist.

The same commentor, fabuloso sums it up well again.
The Webbers aren't "atheists", they are people who ban visible expressions by students of adherence to any particular religion. As most Christians are not required by their churches to pray out loud, or wear big crosses, this ban is a free pass for Christians. But for faiths that do require a daily prayer, as the HR council said (in one of the few moments when it has fulfilled a lucid purpose), the ban is a ban on Muslim students enrolling in the first place. Which makes Webber a nice, white, suburban, discreetly Christian academy in the near suburbs of Calgary.
It seems to me like the problem with Shelley's piece is not merely in the first sentence. The issue exists even earlier on, in the title itself: Want to be atheist? Be coherent first.

Atheist where, who?

The word atheist makes for good click bait though.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer: Some Interesting Effects

Here are a few interesting reactions to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on Wednesday to end prayer in Saguenay Quebec -- which has already had a national effect.

Veronica Abbass has written about the mayor of Cape Breton, who is kvetching about the ruling and vowing to pray in the hallway. Well, good for him.

Hemant Mehta has done some coverage of the mayor of Oshawa, who is threatening to have the prayer before the official part of the meeting within the chambers, which is, of course, a ridiculous and transparent ruse.

Larry Moran has reported that Mississauga is finally going to remove prayer from their city council meetings. Well, she'll obey the law, which I guess means removing the prayer. I wrote about this city in the past. Citizen Derek Gray even appeared before the city council meeting and a crowd of loud churchgoers to try to remove the prayer. That didn't work, but this situation seems impossible for them to weasel out of.

Born again Christian councilman of Halifax, Matt Whitman*, cannot seem to understand why an atheist would have any problem with prayer during city council meetings.
We have to live in a more tolerant world where if someone says 'God,' even if you don't believe in God, or if someone mentions a particular race or political statement, that you can't get so upset about it. This is supposed to be a world of tolerance.
Yes, atheists must tolerate Christians getting all spiritually fulfilled all over the chamber before actual business is done. Christians, on the other hand, should not have to tolerate atheists complaining that state endorsed God worship is alienating, marginalizing and intimidating.
"I like our prayer the way it is and I can feel connected to my God through our prayer. If someone else doesn't believe in God, they don't have to because of the prayer," Whitman said.
Just shut up and sit down and let Matt set the mood for the rest of the meeting by feeling connected with his God.

*Note: Originally I had Whitman down as the mayor of Halifax. Reader Veronica Abbass pointed out to me that the mayor is actually Mike Savage. He's fine with revisiting the prayer question. I guess that's what I get when I blog in the middle of the night.
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, Mayor Mike Savage says it’s a perfect opportunity to take a critical look at the invocation.

“For a long time we were a predominately Christian community. I think people felt it made sense to have the mention of God,” he said Thursday. “We are becoming more diverse, more multicultural.”

For Savage, prayer is a part of life, but he insists that his “beliefs shouldn’t be imposed upon anybody else.”
So, my apologies to the mayor and thank you to Veronica!

Meanwhile, in Quebec, on the day of the judgement, Catholic Bishop of Chicoutimi André Rivest was upset -- because, I think, his religion just lost a privileged position. The article plays back some soundbites. Here they are along with my typically subpar translations.
«Je suis très déçu du dénouement de cette saga. Avec ce jugement, on balaie tous les aspects religieux, et ce, sans nuances».
«Le combat du maire, c'est le combat d'une grande partie de notre population. Bon nombre d'entre nous sont chrétiens et dorénavant, nos croyances ne seront plus respectées».
«On a des droits individuels, mais aussi, des droits collectifs. C'est désolant de constater que l'on ne tient pas compte des droits collectifs dans un débat comme celui-là. »
«Le Mouvement laïque québécois milite, depuis des années, pour faire disparaître la religion de notre société. Ce combat a été conçu pour faire piquer du nez le maire. Pour que, en tant que personnalité publique, ce dernier perde la face devant les citoyens»
I am very disappointed of the conclusion of this saga. With this judgement, we are sweeping away all religious aspects, and this, without nuance.
The mayor's struggle, this is the struggle of a large portion of our population. A good number among us are Christian and from this point on, our beliefs will no longer be respected.
We have individual rights, but also collective rights. It's disappointing to admit that we are not taking account of collective rights in a debate like this.
The Quebec Secular Movement, has been militant for years, to make religion disappear from our society. This battle was conceived to bite the nose of the mayor. So that, as a public personality, this one loses face before the citizens.
Is this some sort of projection? A religion's beliefs need not be a dominant force in the province to be respected. What sort of respect does he then think Muslim and Jewish beliefs get in the province? Or do they not deserve respect?

As for collective rights. This is code for Catholic or Christian rights... or corporations... or an idea or something.

Well, it seems like the majority of Canadians aren't particularly keen on prayer in city halls. An online poll over at The Whig puts agreement with the ruling at 56% versus 31% against. A significant 13% were undecided. In other words, it seems like only a certain breed of activist Christian within government really cares.

Although the Quebec National Assembly dropped prayer way back in 1976, they still have that damned crucifix in the chamber and they're still refusing to take it down. This has been an ongoing thorn in the side of their Secular Charter efforts and the subject of at least one online petition and FEMEN protest. Really, if there's any hope of not looking like a pack of hypocrites, they need to move the thing to a museum.
“The (court) judgment did not mention the crucifix in the National Assembly so it’s important to mention that,” Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée told reporters after noting MNAs have voted twice, in the recent past, to leave it there as a heritage and artistic artifact.
Right, whatever. Prayer in the Assembly was an artistic artifact and that got tossed.

Surely in Quebec we can come up with something suitably artistic to hang up where the crucifix once was.

Hell, even this would be more meaningful.

Thanks to Stephanie for some portions.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

HUGE WIN! Canada Supreme Court to Rules UNANIMOUSLY AGAINST Prayer in City Hall Meetings in Saguenay!

(Posted before the decision):

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to rule today on the prayer in city hall meetings case. This would be the case with quirky Saguenay mayor Jean Tremblay who keeps on trying to get everyone to say his prayer in official municipal meetings -- because: religious freedom.

I'm so sure that the court will rule against the co-mingling of state and church. Because they've been so reasonable in the past with issues like this -- oh, yes, yes I am!

Actually I'm nervous as hell about this because it will likely make a precedent. Unlike many others I've spoken to, I'm not very optimistic about this -- hopefully, I'll be proven wrong.

Tremblay says he'll have a press conference at 10:30 (24 minutes!).

More commentary on this as things unfold.

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:15AM EDT!!

A WIN for secularism in Quebec and by extension the rest of Canada!

La Cour suprême du Canada rend illégale la récitation de la prière à Saguenay

The Supreme Court of Canada makes Saguenay prayer recitation illegal
La Cour suprême du Canada vient de rendre une décision unanime dans laquelle elle donne raison au Mouvement laïque du Québec et au citoyen Alain Simoneau, qui s'opposaient à cette pratique en alléguant qu'elle allait à l'encontre du droit à la liberté de religion de ses concitoyens.

La Cour suprême condamne aussi Saguenay à verser 30 000 $ en dommages à Alain Simoneau, comme l'ordonnait le Tribunal des droits de la personne dans sa première décision.
The Supreme Court of Canada just rendered a unanimous decision in favour of the Secular Movement of Quebec and citizen Alain Simoneau, which opposes this practice and puts forward that this went against the religious rights of the citizens (of Saguenay).

The Supreme Court also orders Saguenay to pay $30,000 in damages to Alain Simoneau as was ordered by the Human Rights Tribunal in the first decision.
 Huge win! More as it develops! This could set the precedent for the rest of the country!

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:20AM EDT: Supreme Court ruling can be found here.
The Tribunal’s finding in this case that there had been discriminatory interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion for the purposes of ss. 3 and 10 of the Quebec Charter was reasonable. The recitation of the prayer at the council’s meetings was above all else a use by the council of public powers to manifest and profess one religion to the exclusion of all others. On the evidence in the record, it was reasonable for the Tribunal to conclude that the City’s prayer is in fact a practice of a religious nature. Its decision on this point was supported by reasons that were both extensive and intelligible, and the background facts, which were reviewed in detail, support its conclusion. Likewise, the Tribunal’s conclusions on the issues of qualifying the expert of S and the MLQ and of the probative value of his opinion were not unreasonable. A relationship between an expert and a party does not automatically disqualify the expert. Even though the Tribunal did not discuss the expert’s independence and impartiality in detail, it was very aware of his relationship with the MLQ and of his views with respect to secularism; it was only after discussing all the evidence, including the substance of the testimony of all the experts, that it decided to accept his testimony.

The prayer recited by the municipal council in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality resulted in a distinction, exclusion and preference based on religion — that is, based on S’s sincere atheism — which, in combination with the circumstances in which the prayer was recited, turned the meetings into a preferential space for people with theistic beliefs. The latter could participate in municipal democracy in an environment favourable to the expression of their beliefs. Although non‑believers could also participate, the price for doing so was isolation, exclusion and stigmatization. This impaired S’s right to exercise his freedom of conscience and religion. The attempt at accommodation provided for in the by‑law, namely giving those who preferred not to attend the recitation of the prayer the time they needed to re‑enter the council chamber, had the effect of exacerbating the discrimination. The Tribunal’s findings to the effect that the interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion was more than trivial or insubstantial were supported by solid evidence, and deference is owed to the Tribunal’s assessment of the effect of the prayer on S’s freedom of conscience and religion.

UPDATE 2015-04-14 10:20 EDT: Globe and Mail writes:
Wednesday’s ruling will have an impact in dozens of cities and towns across Canada that engage in the practice of reciting a prayer before the start of council meetings. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Quebec Naturopath Found Not Guilty After Illegally Injecting Patient Resulting In Lethal Infection

Mitra Javanmardi is a Montreal naturopath who injected an ailing 84 year old man, Roger Matern, with magnesium. The injection was contaminated with bacteria and the Matern died 16 hours later. In Quebec, naturopaths are not allowed to administer any treatment intravenously.

So it's cut and dry -- simple. Javanmardi broke the law and through her illegal action and negligence, a man died. Now she's walking off scott free. She's been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.
"The judge recognized that the victim died of receiving an injection that was contaminated [by bacteria], and obviously the accused is not supposed to do any injections or IV treatments here in Quebec," Crown prosecutor Geneviève Dagenais said outside the courtroom.
No kidding!

Gabrielle Matern, the man's daughter is understandably upset -- she rightly calls is a miscarriage of justice -- and her mother, widow Denise Patern, is now an emotional and mental wreck.

The Quebec College of Physicians has already sanctioned Javanmardi, whatever that really means. Although, this wasn't just neglect! This was a willful breaking of the law. She knew she wasn't allowed to inject, but she did. So what does the judge have to say in her defence?
In handing down her the verdict in Quebec Court, Judge Louise Villemure recognized that the naturopath was not supposed to administer intravenous drugs, but said Javanmardi had received appropriate training and expertise in the United States.

She also received training in Ontario, but was not certified by that province.

Villemure said Javanmardi acted in good faith when treating Matern and took all necessary precautions.
I'm truly at a loss for words here. If she was so qualified then how did the bacteria get there? Dirty needle? Poor storage of the solution? Why wasn't she capable of properly observing the patient after the injection? In Quebec, patients are observed for fifteen minutes after a vaccine, for example.
Denise Patern testified that Javanmardi suggested a magnesium injection to help the ailing man, promising that there was no danger of negative medical interactions.

Matern began feeling ill about 15 minutes after the injection, and died in hospital the following day.
How is she qualified to decide whether or not the injection poses a medical danger? Why didn't she do something after he began to feel ill within 15 minutes of the injection? What do laws and regulations on who can inject people mean if people can break them like this, anyway?

It seems to me like this naturopath, at some level, must have believed she was above the law -- and it does appear that, for now, she is.

The Crown is considering an appeal.

via Pat G

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Saudi Arabia Bestows Greatest Honour Ever Onto Quebec

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)
As I've reported, back in February, the Quebec provincial government and the city of Montreal both formally and unanimously passed resolutions in support of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

Apparently -- it makes me blush just thinking of it -- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is greatly irritated by this meddling in their devious affairs and have complained officially via the Saudi ambassador to Canada. This makes me immensely proud as a Quebecer.
In a letter obtained by the CBC dated March 10 from the Saudi ambassador to Canada to politicians at the National Assembly, the ambassador says Saudi Arabia “does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs.”

“The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees the rights of humans and preserves his blood, money, honour and dignity,” writes Naif Bin Al-Sudairy.

The letter goes further, blaming international agencies and the media with tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s reputation.
They also sent the letter to the federal government, who have somewhat supported Raif via the Foreign Minister and the Office of Religious Freedom, but they've never condemned Saudi Arabia for this brutality as a government body.

I'm sure the letter to Canada will make sure the Federal government puts Quebec back in its place. Yes, that's worked out real well over the past century or so.

This is no interference. This is merely what decent people do -- call out tyrant states who participate in flagrant human rights violations and resolve to do what they can to help the victims and denounce the torturers. There are no teeth to these resolutions, no economic sanctions or military action. It's just bad PR -- which is what Saudi Arabia deserves.
... The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees the rights of humans and preserves his blood, money, honour and dignity ...
Hold on a moment while I process this.

It's those international agencies with all their secular ideas of human rights, of course, which are the real problem. Oh yes!

Well, Quebec politicians are refusing to apologize or back down. In fact, if there's one thing the Saudis will need to learn is that Quebec is not easily silenced (e.g. do not give a f*ck). This appears to also be across all parties.
“Regimes which have an unacceptable attitude on freedom of expression have to expect that we are going to get involved in their affairs,” said Parti Québécois MNA Jean-François Lisée, a former international affairs minister and former journalist.

“Human rights is everyone’s business,” added Marie-Victorin MNA Bernard Drainville, a candidate for the PQ leadership. “Mr. Badawi’s wife is now living in Quebec, she’s a Quebecer and she’s living in Sherbrooke with her children. It is our responsibility and our moral duty to fight on her behalf.”

And Québec solidaire MNA Amir Khadir congratulated politicians for keeping up the pressure on the regime noting the letter to the legislature is proof Quebec has got its attention.

“The barbaric situation Badawi finds himself in has sparked solidarity movements all over the world which are being transformed into political pressures,” Khadir said.
Actually, according to Amnesty International’s Mireille Elchacar, the very same letter has been sent to all political states which have commented on the Raif Badawi case. So I'm guessing the Americans probably got it as well. Still, Quebec is a province within Canada, so I think it gives us something to brag about over, say, Ontario.

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