B.C. court to rule on forcing children to participate in religious rituals
Disclosure: Lawyer John Carpay is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which represents Candice Servatius in her court action against School District 70.
Public schools in British Columbia are not complying with court rulings, because children are required to participate in religious rituals and spiritual practices in the classroom.
Burns Lake has finally gotten some closure this week after former mayor Luke Strimbold has been sentenced to two years less a day for his crimes of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
All his crimes were committed on youth, under the age of 16.
The 29-year-old former mayor pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault in addition to once count of sexual interference and one count of invitation to sexual touching.
Many members of the community are unhappy with the verdict, feeling the sentence was light considering the original charge was 29 sex offences over a two year period against seven minors between 2014 and 2017.
The Crown had asked for four to six years in federal prison, however the judge ruled that Strimbold will instead serve his sentence in a provincial institution followed by two years probation upon his release. He will remain a registered sex offender until 2039.
The time period of the assaults overlap with Strimbold’s time as mayor 2011-2016.
Madam Justice Brenda Brown of B.C. Supreme Court factored that in as part of her ruling saying that Stimbold was in a position of authority. Brown also acknowledge Strimbold’s use of drugs and alcohol and that he had in fact sought out counselling for these issues prior to any charges being laid. She delivered her decision via video conference from Vancouver to the courtroom in Smithers, B.C.
Justice Brown said that Strimbold has shown remorse and is of low-to-moderate risk to reoffend.
Strimbold delivered a tearful apology to his victims at a sentencing hearing last week, according to CBC. He described them as friends and said, “I am deeply sorry to each of them and will forever be regretful.” He went on to apologize to the community of Burns Lake, saying, “I am sorry I let you down.”
Stanley Tessmer, Strimbold’s defence lawyer told the court that his client was the victim of abuse himself at a young age. Strimbold was unable to recognize that abuse and such is the reason he was unable to recognize the problem with his own actions when the originally occurred.
Tessmer also brought to the courts attention that Strimbold was a closeted gay man who was bullied in his youth which led to his substance abuse.
Tessmer asked the court for 18 months in a provincial jail.
Former Babine Lake First Nation Chief Wilf Adam was unhappy with the verdict, calling the sentence “unacceptable,” saying it failed Strimbold’s victims as well as the people of Burns Lake who’d put their trust in him as mayor.
“I just find that totally unacceptable. The system has failed the victims,” he said.
Adam was chief of Lake Babine at the same time that Strimbold held office and the two worked closely together on multiple occasions including dealing with the aftermath of the 2013 Babine Forest Products mill explosion in Burns Lake, according to CBC.
This is no doubt one of the reasons Adam felt so frustrated by the sentence saying that Strimbold’s actions were a “betrayal of trust, not just to me but to the people of Burns Lake, to the Lake Babine Nation, to the other First Nations in the Burns Lake area.”
Now a board member of the Northern Health Authority and the First Nation Health Council, Adam has been working to bring counselling services to anybody in the Burns Lake area who is seeking help. He feels the recent trial has likely brought up some painful memories for any members of the community who had previously experienced abuse themselves.
CBC reported Adam said that if Strimbold does want the community to heal than, “He needs to look at himself. He needs to make sure that he truly is sorry for what he has done – not to be forced in court, but to truly understand.”
“He really needs to help himself.” said Adam.
A&W is once again leading the charge when it comes to plant-based foods.
Following the success of its Beyond Meat Burger, A&W is set to test out plant-based chicken nuggets in Canada starting today.
While plant-based, A&W does note on its website that the Nuggets will be cooked with vegetable oil using the same fryers as it’s chicken items’
The nuggets will be provided through a partnership with Lightlife, a meatless product producer, for a limited in stores across Ontario and British Columbia. Should sales go well; A&W has said it would be happy to retain the item after its promotional period.
“We can’t resist our new Plant-Based Nuggets and we can’t wait for guests to taste our delicious new nuggets for themselves,” Susan Senecal, President, and CEO at A&W Canada, said, according to VegNews.
“Nuggets are fun to eat and fun to share and we think Canadians will be very impressed with our new plant-based nuggets for lunch, dinner, or any time in between.”
The nuggets will be made from peas, wheat flour, and fava beans. They will be sold for $5.99 for a six-piece or $8.99 for a 10-piece.
Richard Lee, a veteran Liberal MLA from British Columbia, has spoken out about the Chinese government, saying that they detained him, and that they are actively interfering in Canadian democracy, according to Global News.
Lee stated that upon arriving in Shanghai airport in 2015, the Chinese police improperly detained him, separated him from his family, stole and searched his B.C government phone before forcing him to go back to Canada.
Since this incident, Lee said that China’s interference in Canadian democracy has only gotten worse. They are, according to Lee, attempting to control Chinese-Canadian politicians and immigrants, so to protect Beijing from foreign dissent.
Richard Lee was the Liberal MLA for the riding of Burnaby between 2001 and 2017. Lee sent a letter to both Trudeau and Freeland, detailing his detention and subsequent allegations. Lee did not hear back from the Liberal government for a year.
At the time, however, Lee chose not to alert the public to the Chinese government’s actions due to his fear that it would damage an already frayed relationship between the two countries.
Lee cited consular warnings that stop Canadian politicians from speaking out against China, as well as the continued detention of Canadian citizens, as evidence that China is undermining Canada’s sovereignty.
Ravi Kahlon, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in British Columbia, wants to crackdown on “racist and hateful behaviour” in the province.
How might this crackdown look in respect to public policy? Ticketing.
“I understand that some jurisdictions have implemented new, non-criminal sanctions to deter this behavior such as ticketing,” writes Kahlon in a letter to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “I would be grateful if your ministry could determine what options might be available to better deter perpetrators.”
Throughout the month of November, there have been a number of articles written on the topic of stopping racism in British Columbia due to the province launching the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network. This network is the result of Kahlon’s work on dealing with racism within the province.
What is this network exactly? The BC government explains its purpose and goals on their website.
The Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network will offer a multi-faceted, province wide approach with greater focus and leadership in identifying and challenging racism. The program will connect communities with information, supports and training they need to respond to, and prevent future incidents of, racism and hate.
This all sounds de rigueur of left-leaning governments in Canada in the current year as they embark on a neverending quest to defeat racism and hate in our provinces and, more broadly, our country.
However, the proposal of a non-criminal sanction — a ticket — for committing acts of racism is something new and without definition.
Of the three articles I read on the idea of ticketing racists, it wasn’t clear what misconduct would result in someone being ticketed.
In a Global News article, Kahlon is quoted as saying, “People are afraid in their communities. They know that these hate groups are organizing in communities.”
In a Star Vancouver article, he told the reporter, “What we heard was quite disturbing; lots of incidents of racism, hate, and hate groups starting to organized in communities throughout the province.”
Even the news release by the BC government on the anti-racism network cited a rise in hate crimes in Metro Vancouver but didn’t go into specifics about statistics.
What constitutes racism in Canada has been a hot topic since March of 2017 when Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP representing Mississauga — Erin Mills introduced Motion-103 Parliament.
M-103 called on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” and asked the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.”
Opposition to M-103 was strong among the conservative opposition. There were nation-wide protests sparked by the vagueness of what defined “hate and fear”, and the singling out of Islam as a target group of said ill-defined hate and fear.
Why definitions are important
Being called a racist can have massive social and economic ramifications. These ramifications would undoubtedly be exacerbated with the addition of a ticket.
Without knowing what constitutes an act worth ticketing, it’s irresponsible of Kahlon, his fellow politicians, or the media to even consider supporting his proposal no matter how virtuous its proponents make it seem.
Beyond (and more important than) the details of the Kahlon’s inquiry into ticketing racist behaviour is the clear encroachment on Canadians’ civil liberties — namely our right to free expression and free assembly.
It’s become fashionable in Canada to deny certain groups their right to conscious and expression.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals tried to block pro-life groups from accessing federal funding for summer camp programmes. Granted, this decision was eventually overturned because of the backlash the Liberals received. But for a while, it was a reality.
Then there was the French-Canadian comedian, Mike Ward, who was fined $42,000 by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for a joke that offended a mother and her son.
And don’t forget the de-platforming of people like Jordan Peterson, Faith Goldy, Maxime Bernier, and just about everyone who works at The Rebel.
Sure, de-platforming isn’t a government directive, but it is a tactic being used by left-wing groups that’s made its way into the mainstream. Politicians are now looking to capitalise on the growing distaste some loud segments of the public have for free expression.
Just last month, hundreds protested the decision of the Toronto Public Library to allow “transexclusionary radical feminist” Meghan Murphy the right to speak at one of their locations.
The mayor of Toronto, John Tory, publically decried the event. Other councilors followed suit.
If we don’t clearly define what is allowable speech in Canada — or more poignant to this discussion, what defines racism and hate speech — we’re going to continue to see this tete-a-tete happening between the public, media and politicians.
We’re going to continue to see poorly defined concepts used to dictate public policy.
We’re going to see distrust build among and between cultural, religious, and racial groups.
Look no further than the anti-Israel protests that occurred at York University this week. Protesters screamed at Jewish students to “Go back to the ovens”, according to witness accounts, among other antisemitic chants.
If its Muslims directing that hateful language at Jews, is it in violation of M-103? Is it hate speech? Is it a ticketable offense in BC if Kahlon’s idea becomes a reality?
And if we answer yes to all of those questions, what will that do to relations between the Jewish and Islamic communities?
We can look globally to the Middle East and even parts of Europe to answer those questions.
To be clear, I am not saying direct calls to violence shouldn’t be punishable. I’m not suggesting there are no limitations to one’s freedom of expression. I am simply asking for these concepts to be better defined.
Definitions are of the utmost importance when it comes to law and public policy. Given the rather fragile state of Canada’s societal cohesion right now, there ought to be extraordinary caution taken when drafting policy that may curtail one’s expression.
No one in Canada wants what happened at York University to be seen as acceptable. On the other hand, no one wants undefined terms legislating what speech is acceptable and what speech ticketable.