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Letters  

Don't single out churches

There seems to be a missing consideration in the recent actions of our esteemed Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health. Freedom of religion is, in fact, protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This means discriminatory actions by the government to close houses of worship under the false flag of public health guidelines must be seen to be of sufficient and imminent necessity to justify abrogating our Charter rights.

I have not seen any compelling data to suggest the need to single out religious institutions, especially those which have indeed exceeded previous public health guidelines, for closure. Yet our restaurants, cheerleaders, martial arts studios, schools can continue to function within present guidelines. So says Dr. Henry, and she is an honorable person. Perhaps she has some information which she has not shared about specific sites which have been the source of outbreaks.

We certainly have seen such information for specific schools and places of business but this did not result in a blanket closure for all similar institutions. We have not seen any such information for places of worship but perhaps this has been withheld in the interests of not showing sectarian bias, for Dr. Henry is a charitable person. I point out these inconsistencies not to condemn Dr. Henry, but in an attempt to develop her sensitivity to the importance of religious observance for many of us.

If the present pandemic represents such a clear and present danger to justify suspending our charter right to practice our religion, then should not all social intercourse, whether economic, educational or participatory, be similarly governed. I foresee a tsunami of appeals to the Human Rights Commission in the very near future unless this situation is rectified.

Dr. R.W. Wilson MD FRCPC



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