Looking forward to a year of engagement

31 January 2022
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Thank you for empowering the EFC as we collaborate to make Canada better for everyone. For 2022, we have some clarity about issues the government will focus on.

Prime Minister Trudeau released mandate letters for his cabinet ministers in December, which reflect the priorities of the prime minister and indicate some of the issues coming to Parliament. These letters sketch out a map for the months ahead as we see where the government will be focusing.

Conversion therapy

As Canadians know, the conversion therapy ban came into force January 7. The EFC has been interacting with this bill (C-4) and with previous versions of the ban, consistently affirming that coercive and harmful practices have no place in Canadian society or the Church, while also expressing concern that the definition of conversion therapy in the bill was too broad and advocating for needed clarity.

The EFC has worked with partner organizations on an analysis of the bill for churches and ministries and we will be monitoring how the ban is applied and interpreted as we move forward together.

Charitable status of pro-life organizations

Protection and care for those who are vulnerable, including the unborn, is an area of focus and concern for the EFC.

Canada’s finance minister has been asked to work with the minister for women and gender equality to “introduce amendments to the Income Tax Act to make anti-abortion organizations that provide dishonest counselling to pregnant women about their rights and options ineligible for charitable status.” We wrote to the finance minister in November, requesting clarification.

While we believe all charities should carry out their activities honestly and ethically, the EFC is very concerned these measures seem directed only at organizations with a particular view on abortion.

We asked the minister how “dishonest counseling” would be defined and identified. If it is based solely on a particular premise of when life begins or disagreement with abortion/ending life, this would raise serious concerns about compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The EFC is also concerned by the mischaracterization implicit in the government’s position. We affirm that pregnancy care centres are a vital source of support for many Canadian women and are often run by Christians concerned for both mother and child. The EFC will continue to monitor this situation and share our concerns and guidance with the government.

Online harms

Online hate and harm continue to be a topic of discussion in Canada. We know that the justice minister has been asked to work with his colleagues to develop legislation to combat harmful online content, including child sexual abuse materials, the uploading of intimate images without consent, and online hate.

The EFC has interacted with the government on these issues, and we will continue to call for the careful balance required when dealing with legislation that touches on both societal care and personal freedoms.

Positively, we applaud the government’s focus on introducing legislation to “eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canadian businesses operating abroad do not contribute to human rights abuses,” as outlined in the mandate given to the minister of labour. We’re also encouraged by the focus on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples that was highlighted in each minister’s mandate letter. The EFC has been working hard to fulfill our own commitment to move towards reconciliation and help the Canadian Church do that more effectively and consistently by providing resources for individuals and congregations.

There is no doubt that the next session of Parliament will be busy. Please pray for God’s grace and discernment in tackling complex policies and continue to join with us as we work together on these issues and more. It is vital that we are present.

What you can do

Also in this issue: Resource helps Canadian churches welcome newcomers; Racism discussion guide now available; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the President, Bruce J. Clemenger; The EFC administrative office has moved; Heart and hands: Insights from the work of Brian Lopez, the EFC’s digital media manager; EFC Family of Podcasts and Faith Today.