Bill 208, the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statues Amendment Act
FOTF / IMFC Watch
Focus on the Family (FOTF) Canada &
Institute of Marriage & Family Canada (IMFC)
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fundamentalist desire for political supremacy
updated May 14, 2006
Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Bill 208: Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statutes Amendment Act, 2006 (Morton)
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“Bill 208 would ensure that when it comes to public discussions of the same-sex marriage issue, no one will be punished, no community group will be sued, no one will lose their job, no school will lose their funding, for disagreeing with and stating their disapproval of same-sex marriage.”
“Bill 208 would prevent these types of rights abuses from happening in Alberta. Bill 208 would prioritize the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”
~ Foothills Rocky View MLA Ted Morton
Source Restore Marriage, Canada
Stalling Tactics Kill Alberta Private Bill Protecting Opposition to Homosexual Activity
by Gudrun Schultz, LifeSiteNews.com
EDMONTON, Alberta, May 10, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A bill protecting the freedom of Albertans to opt out of teaching homosexual material or performing same-sex marriages ran out of time on Monday, as opposition members used stalling tactics to ensure the bill did not have a chance to pass.
A private members bill, the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statutes Amendment Act offered protection to those who oppose homosexual activity. The bill would have amended the Human Rights, citizenship and Multiculturalism Act by forbidding sanctions against Albertans who express their freedom of conscience and religion by supporting or opposing same-sex marriage.
“It’s a sad day for democracy when the Liberals and ND’s won’t allow a debate on an issue this important,” the bill’s sponsor, Ted Morton, told the Canadian Press.
Although Mr. Morton had earlier criticized Premier Ralph Klein for failing to advocate for Bill 208, the premier spoke out in favour of the bill on Monday, saying it stemmed from existing government policy.
“I don’t want to be perceived as a gay-basher, because I’m not,” said Klein. “But I want to protect those who, on moral and religious grounds, don’t want to marry a gay couple.”
Mr. Morton said he intends to revisit the bill during the coming leadership contest for Alberta’s Conservatives.
“I’m predicting that Bill 208 will be back as a government bill next February,” he said. “I know I have the support of about three-quarters of caucus plus the premier.”
previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
Alberta MLA Proposes Protection of Fundamental Freedoms Act
Alberta Bill on Same-Sex Marriage Likely to be Watered Down in Tory Caucus
Alberta MLA Introduces Bill to Protect Religious Freedom Re: Marriage
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC)
EFC Update May 1, 2006
Alberta MLA Dr. Ted Morton (Foothills-Rocky View) has introduced Bill 208 (Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statutes Ammendment Act, 2006) into the Alberta Legislature. Through this Bill, Dr. Morton intends to protect the freedoms of religion and conscience of all Albertans as regards same-sex marriage. In particular, he seeks to enshrine in Alberta law the right of members of the clergy and of marriage commissioners to refuse to marry people of the same sex without fear of reprisal. The bill would also allow students to opt out of being taught about same-sex issues and protect teachers from being forced to teach gay literature.
EFC Update May 2, 2006
Bill 208 passed second reading in the Alberta legislature on May 1. According the Edmonton Journal, the Bill "passed overwhelmingly on an uncounted vote and now awaits final reading, which (Dr. Morton) hopes will come in the next two weeks."
EFC Update May 10, 2006
Bill 208 has run out of time. It will not pass before the Alberta Legislature ends its spring sitting, and therefore will die. Dr. Morton hopes to see the Bill reintroduced as a government bill in the next sitting of the Alberta Legislature.
Bill Requires Parental Consent Before Gay Marriage Discussed
May, 01 2006 - 8:10 AM
CALGARY/AM770CHQR - An Alberta MLA is presenting a private member's bill in the Legislature Monday that he says aims to protect freedom of speech - especially when it comes to same sex marriage.
Part of the bill has drawn the ire of the Alberta Teachers Association though, as it would mean parents would have to give their consent before their children can discuss same sex marriage in school.
Teachers believe it would constrict classroom discussion.
But MLA Ted Morton, who is presenting the bill, says he disagrees. He says it's about protecting freedom of speech and religion, not about limiting it.
Alberta MLA Proposes Protection of Fundamental Freedoms Act
by Gudrun Schultz, LifeSiteNews.com
EDMONTON, Alberta, April 13, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Alberta politician has introduced a bill that would offer protection to those who oppose homosexual “rights.”
Ted Morton, MLA for Foothills-Rockyview, introduced Bill 208 last week, the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statues Amendment Act, with amendments to the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, the Marriage Act, and the School Act.
“In a free society, the most important right is the right to disagree with and criticize government policy, and this bill enhances that right,” Morton told the Cochrane Times.
Morton drafted the bill in response to lawsuits and job losses faced by some Canadians who have voiced opposition to the “same-sex marriage” law, Bill C-38, which enshrined same-sex marriage in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has criticized the government in the past for not offering more protection to the traditional definition of marriage.
With this bill, he hopes to ensure the right to free speech and freedom of expression on the issue for Albertans.
Urgent Action Required: Freedom of Conscience & Religion Legislation
United Mothers, Fathers & Friends' Newsletter - April 28, 2006
Source: Restore Marriage, Canada
I) First Legislation in Canada to Protect Dissent – Alberta Bill 208
II) Take Action: Speak out for Protection of Freedoms
III) Bill C-38 Ten Months Later: Freedom of Conscience, Religion, and Speech Remain Under Attack
Members of the Defend Marriage Coalition include:
REAL Women of Canada
- Campaign Life Coalition
Catholic Civil Rights League
Canada Family Action Coalition
Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre
Enshrine Marriage Canada
United Families Canada
United Mothers and Fathers
Preserve Marriage-Protect Children’s Rights/Préserver le Mariage-Protégeons les droits des enfants
Association des parents catholiques du Québec
A coalition of 12 pro-family organizations has sent a joint letter (PDF) to hundreds of Canadian religious leaders urging them to mobilize their congregations to ensure the success of the upcoming vote to re-open the marriage debate. Noting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated during the recent election that he would re-visit the same-sex marriage issue in Parliament and that he stated after the January election this would happen “sooner, rather than later,” the Defend Marriage Coalition called upon clergy to speak up for real marriage and to defend religious freedom.
The Coalition – of which Campaign Life Coalition is part - said that the delay so far in calling the vote is seen as “a window of opportunity to ensure a winning vote in support of traditional marriage,” but the group emphasizes that “this will only occur if we are able to effectively marshal articulate voices in defense of children, families, and religious freedom.”
The letter was sent to 363 Catholic Bishops, religious leaders listed in the Yearbook of Canadian Churches, Jewish synagogues and Bahai leaders and will soon also be sent to Muslim and Hindu leaders. The letter stresses the importance not only of the sanctity of marriage and the need to protect family life, but also the importance of religious freedom.
“This vote will also be extremely crucial for religious organizations in Canada,” the letter states, “because, contrary to the former Liberal government’s assertions, religious groups will inevitably be subject to legal challenges if the legal definition of marriage remains unchanged and continues to include same-sex partners.” The sad fact is that sometime, somewhere, gay activists are going to question the constitutionality of churches refusing to commit same-sex ‘marriages’, whether it be before the courts or the human rights commissions. Considering how, in the past, tthe courts and commisions have often ruled in favour of homosexuals and against the free expression of religion on moral issues, it is a good bet that they will rule against the churches if same-sex ‘marriage’ is allowed to stand.
Strong action by religious leaders and clergy is absolutely crucial to the fight to restore marriage in Canada. Canada needs them to speak out in favour of marriage and to quickly generate among their flocks a powerful movement to demand a reversal of the law that redefined marriage to include homosexual partners. Clergy and other religious leaders who are silent or weak on this (and other moral issues) are abrogating a natural, primary responsibility of religious leaders which is needed at this critical juncture in our country’s history.
The initial vote will be, as the Prime Minister has promised, on a motion to re-open the issue in Parliament. We must win that initial vote. Only then will the issue advance to a next stage which will be the Prime Minister calling for a vote on the actual definition of marriage.
The fact is that only if the religious leaders and clergy speak up clearly and often in favour of marriage will the general public know about its responsibility to demand change. This is not a political issue from which churches and religious institutions should hide, but one of the great moral questions that confronts us. It also gravely endangers our future religious freedom. It is therefore no time for religious leaders to be silent or accede as if the battle is lost.
Really, they and we have no choice. If the marriage redefinition stands, religious freedom, charitable tax status and other securities that timid church leaders fear losing will likely be eventually lost anyway. We are called to be morally strong and decisive, even when the situation is challenging. Any weakness on this crucial issue will send a strong signal to the enemies of faith that everything can eventually be taken from us because we are clearly not willing to stand up for what we believe.
Same-sex bill outrages gay teacher
Allows teachers to opt out of discussion
by Max Maudie, Staff writer, Edmonton Sun
A controversial provincial bill aimed at allowing students and teachers to opt out of school discussions on same-sex marriage has outraged a gay Edmonton teacher.
“It would be like being able to opt out of a discussion on racism (in the classroom),” said Kathy Da Silva, who teaches for Edmonton Public Schools.
“We’re going down a really scary path. It’s so ridiculous.”
The Protection of Fundamental Freedoms bill – bill 208 – would allow students and teachers to skip attending or teaching any part of a course that teaches marriage may be a union between same-sex partners.
Da Silva said she teaches topics such as cloning and stem cell research in her biology class at Centre High – both are contentious topics – and wonders why same-sex marriage is being singled out in a bill 208. Read the full article
Morton's 'freedom' bill should never have reached second reading
Letter to Editor by Esther Schwab, printed in The Edmonton Journal, May 04, 2006
As a straight, married woman, I was horrified to read that Ted Morton's ironically named private member's bill has passed second reading "overwhelmingly on an uncounted voice vote." Regardless of whether the bill dies when the legislature breaks for the summer, the fact that it reached second reading stage is appalling.
I read Bill 208 -- the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statutes Amendment Act -- before writing this letter. The bill casts a much broader net than reported.
The preamble refers to the charter of rights and Alberta's Bill of Rights and says it is "necessary and proper" for members of religious groups to be able to express their opinions about marriage.
The first section purports to amend the Human Rights Act and provides that no person or organization can be sanctioned under any Alberta law, for expressing or exercising their religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. In other words, you can say and do whatever you like about same-sex marriage -- and by implication, gays and lesbians.
The second section purports to amend the Marriage Act and allows members of the clergy and marriage commissioners to refuse to marry same-sex couples, without legal repercussions. This section is both redundant and offensive -- a rare feat in legislative drafting. The charter already protects members of the clergy from having to marry same-sex couples in religious ceremonies, as it already protects members of the clergy from having to marry people who are of different faiths.
Marriage commissioners are a different matter. They are appointed by Alberta taxpayers to perform civil -- not religious -- marriages. Would Albertans tolerate a similar exemption if marriage commissioners could refuse to perform marriages between people of different skin colours? If marriage commissioners are offended at being asked to do their jobs and to offer their civil services to all Albertans, then I suggest they consider taking appropriate religious training and joining the clergy instead.
The third section amends the School Act and is a fine example of dangerously broad legal drafting. It would allow students to refuse to attend class where same-sex marriage is "taught" as part of the curriculum and would allow teachers to refuse to teach about same-sex marriage, without repercussions. The problem is where does discussion end and teaching begin?
The bill would also force schools to advise parents that same-sex marriage may be caught as part of the curriculum, thereby creating the impression that this subject is dangerous and offensive.
By this logic, why not also allow exemptions for those portions of the Alberta curriculum that discuss evolution or sexual reproduction?
The irony is that while the bill refers to the charter and contemplates that it is "necessary and proper" that people who do not agree with same-sex marriage be given carte blanche to express their views, the bill denies that it is "necessary and proper" that those people be called to task for what they say and do. Those are rights without responsibilities.
Morton's views are well known and I am not surprised that he is promulgating this bill, but the MLAs who approved first and second reading should be ashamed of themselves.
"In Canada, Focus on the Family (FOTF) is pouring money into its Canadian operation and is joined by a raft of new evangelical groups with a political mission such as Campaign Life Coalition, the Defend Marriage Coalition, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Institute for Canadian Values, whose founders liken it to the Fraser Institute with a religious tinge."
~ Maude Barlow
Source: Election 2006 blog written by Maude Barlow - January 12, 2006
Focus on the Family (FOTF) Canada
Focus on the Family (FOTF) Canada is the Canadian version of the U.S. group that took out ANTI-GAY ADS in Canada's largest newspapers in their $1.5 million ad campaign against equal marriage.
Do you remember seeing this Ad?
View the full sized Ad
Institute of Marriage & Family Canada (IMFC)
The "front" group for Focus on the Family (FOTF) Canada, the Institute of Marriage & Family Canada (IMFC), is now based in Ottawa doing the FOTF's right-wing hateful work.
FOTF announced in February 2006 that they were setting up a "think tank" in Ottawa, not to lobby as it does in the US, but to "inform" policy and decision makers.
"The lead story on CBC's The House this morning was on Focus on the Family's opening a branch office in Ottawa under the name Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. According to the spokesman interviewed the new organ will not "lobby" the government or politicians, but merely supply it and them with research and documentation on issues like stem cell research, same sex marriage [sic], abortion, and other "family values" issues."
"It sounds like Focus on the Family (Canada) is trying to protect its status as a registered charity under Canadian tax laws (its website says it is a registered charity). A charity is not supposed it engage in political activities or other non-charitable activities. That is why it gets favoured tax treatment. It is supposed to be doing things for the public good (e.g. helping the sick, the poor, etc.).
So, the new organ of Focus on the Family (Canada) claims they won't "lobby" politicians. They claim that they will just give politicians "information" about same sex marriage (probably the usual socon libel about gays being more likely to be diseased, child molesters, a threat to the family and traditional morality, etc.).
As a charity, Focus on the Family (Canada) does not pay tax. And, homophobes who give money to Focus on the Family (Canada) will get a charitable tax receipt for their donations and will be able to claim a deduction on their income tax form.
As a result of this "tax expenditure" scheme, the Government of Canada will be robbed of tax dollars by the homophobes."
The FOTF website indicates they issue tax receipts for their legal defense fund. If you go to: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/investigations there is a link (how to reach us) that will give you the local contact to file a complaint.
NB: If you are going to file a complaint with the Canada Revenue Agency about political activities by a registered charity, you are going to have to show how the charity violated the Agency's policy on political activities -- you can read the Agency's policy here
The policy lists both PROHIBITED and PERMITTED political activities by charities. When you read the policy, you will see that a lot of what the socon groups do is PERMITTED.
Summary of the IMFC Organization
From the IMFC site:
Family is the foundation of our society. The health of our children, communities and nation depends on strong families. The aim of society and government policy should be to protect and support this foundation.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) conducts, compiles and presents the latest and most accurate research to ensure that marriage and family-friendly policy are foremost in the minds of Canada’s decision makers.
From the FOTF site:
Acknowledging the vital role of marriage and family life in our society, the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) is devoted to effectively promoting the best thinking on how society can support and strengthen the institutions of marriage and family.
The IMFC aims to ensure its research is impacting public debate and its ideas are heard by key leaders throughout society. The IMFC is an Ottawa based initiative of Focus on the Family (Canada).
A Better Message
The parody ad below, created by Noreen Stevens, sends a better message than the Focus on the Family (FOTF) Ad which appeared in the country's largest newspapers.
Text in image reads as follows:
We Believe in Moms and Dads, Aunties, Grandfathers, Foster Parents, Teachers, Friends...
Our community is where life takes place, and lasting lessons come from the people all around us — all our relations.
We believe in community, and our community’s commitment to justice and equality is the foundation of our society.
Gay Marriage — if you don’t believe in it, don’t have one!
To learn more, open your mind.
Copyright® 2004 Noreen Stevens
view the paroday ad image at http://dawn.thot.net/fotf_parody.gif