Religious Rights and Freedom of Conscience: Are they always  Compatible with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

For example, in late 2017, the Canadian government announced changes to its Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program that sparked debate over the program’s constitutionality. CSJ is a funding subsidy designed to provide students with summer work opportunities. Under the program’s new changes, organizations applying for the funding—small businesses, non-profits, and other community organizations—were required to check a box online that attested that both their core mandate and proposed summer job respected the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [Charter] as well as “other rights.”

These “other rights” explicitly included reproductive rights. Though the government emphasized that the attestation targeted organizations’ “actions” rather than their “beliefs,” it sparked pushback among several entities in Canada and some have launched constitutional challenges against the attestation requirement by the Federal Government. The panel members will each give a 10-15 minute overview of their position on the general topic of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms versus Religious Rights and Freedom of Conscience, followed by equal time for questions and answers involving audience participation.

Speakers: Katharina Stevens, Geoffrey Capp and James Linville

Kat Stevens is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Lethbridge, where she teaches legal philosophy and argumentation theory. She arrived in Southern Alberta in 2017 and is enjoying the city very much. Being both a young woman and a person with a conscience, she has a horse in the race on both sides of the topic, so she is excited to partake in this panel discussion with audience participation.

Geoffrey Capp is office manager for an Alberta trucking company. He has served the Christian Heritage Party as a member since 1988 and as a candidate in seven Federal elections. His desire to run as a candidate in elections are motivated by government policies and programs that may hurt the most important unit of Canadian society, the family, and imperil the children who are essential to our nation’s future.

James Linville is Chair of the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge. His original research was into biblical mythology and he is currently in the midst of a multi-year project on Christian young-earth creationism. A strong advocate both of freedom of religion and of the separation of church and state, he has also been on the advisory panel of the secularist organization Centre for Inquiry Canada.

Moderator: Shannan Little

Date: Monday, November 26, 2018
Time: 7 - 9 pm Venue: Lethbridge Public Library Community Room (upstairs), Main Branch, 810 – 5th Ave. South

Free admission thanks to Lethbridge Public Library, everyone is welcome to attend this panel discussion.

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