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As a new Parliament begins, here are some of the activities, grouped by four themes, that the EFC engaged in with the previous Parliament, bringing biblical principles to bear on the issues of the day.
The Canada Summer Jobs situation challenged the ability of Canadian churches and Christian organizations to be eligible for government grants. The EFC was very active on this issue, writing and
meeting with MPs and cabinet ministers, participating in the crafting and delivery of a significant interfaith statement, hosting exploratory and strategy meetings, and engaging with the media on this issue. The federal government removed the troubling attestation, although the new program guidelines still raised concern. Some groups were still denied funding based on interpretation of the guidelines.
Bill C-51 proposed to remove the only specific protection for religious clergy and for worship services in the Criminal Code. The EFC engaged on multiple levels, such as helping to coordinate an interfaith letter to the Justice Minister, creating a written brief and appearing at a parliamentary committee. The
committee changed the proposed legislation to retain protection for clergy and worship services in the Criminal Code.
Religious discrimination study – The EFC discussed an increasingly antireligious climate in Canadian culture and asked the federal government to make a sustained and transparent commitment to upholding freedom of religion, and to modeling tolerance and respect. We shared our research and briefed a parliamentary committee.
The EFC asked for help for Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor held in North Korea for more than two years, and then celebrated his safe return and thanked the federal government for Canada’s action.
The EFC supported proposed bills by individual MPs about conscience protection on issues such as medically assisted suicide. None of these bills were passed before the election was called.
SANCTITY OF LIFE
Euthanasia – The EFC made numerous submissions and appearances at parliamentary committees on Bill C-14 and medical assistance in dying (MAID). The EFC is fundamentally opposed to euthanasia
and assisted suicide. When legalized, we requested safeguards for vulnerable Canadians. The EFC engaged in every step, from intervening in the Supreme Court case, to submissions to parliamentary
committees, to meetings and correspondence with MPs and Senators. We helped craft and share an interfaith statement and press conference on Parliament Hill. Some of the requested changes were included in the bill. Bill C-14 ultimately passed with more safeguards and restrictions.
The EFC submitted research to a study the federal government requested from the Council of Canadian Academies on expanding MAID to include minors and people who are solely mentally ill.
Palliative care – The EFC supported a private member’s bill to establish a palliative care framework in Canada and made recommendations to Health Canada on how palliative care should be defined to better serve Canadians. The Framework on Palliative Care is now being implemented.
CARE OF THE VULNERABLE
Sexual exploitation – The EFC wrote about the public health impacts of pornography, highlighting increased porn-related violence against women, in briefs to the health committee and the status of women committee. The EFC requested support for the current prostitution laws that criminalize
demand for paid sex.
Human trafficking – In a brief to the justice committee, the EFC called for increased support for victims of human trafficking, and for the renewal of a national strategy to combat trafficking. The new National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking was released in September. The EFC requested changes to Bill C-75, so that Criminal Code penalties related to trafficking would remain more serious indictable offences. The bill was passed without making the changes we’d requested.
CHURCH & MISSION
The EFC briefed the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector about the church’s distinct role in Canadian culture. The committee’s report suggested ways to strengthen the charitable sector without specifically mentioning the role of churches.
How you can be involved
Also in this issue: "New EFC Research: Canada is not changing. Canada has changed;" "Behind the scenes of the EFC’s latest research on a changed Canada;" "Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues;" "Note from Executive Vice-President David Guretzki;" "Hearts and hands: Insights from the work of the EFC's Aileen Van Ginkel;" and more.
- Let’s pray together for the work to come with Canada’s newest Parliament
- Can you introduce the work of the EFC to Canadian Christians passionate about having a practical and compassionate voice in issues of religious freedom and care of the vulnerable in our country?