Pastor Dave  

The price of free speech in Canada

Did you know that there is now a landmark cost for free speech in Canada? On October 4th, five pro-life students at Carleton University were arrested by Ottawa city police on the university campus and fined $130 each for what may be considered “non-academic misconduct.” Why? They had set up a Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) in the Tory Quad which graphically co-related the barbarism of modern day abortion to the atrocities of the past.

Yes, in 2007, GAP was officially approved and recognized by Carleton University, this despite a policy that banned using student services for anti-abortion activity. Yes, they were fulfilling their clearly defined aims in terms of campaigning and educating, even though they knew that anyone could file a complaint if they felt discriminated against as to “limiting or removing a woman’s right to choose her options in the case of pregnancy.”

Yes, the goal of GAP was to "promote the support and protection of life from conception to natural death,” and they knew that some people may feel harassed even by that wholesome idea. Yes, the pictures were harsh and comprised an in your face challenge, but the intent was to break down the hardness that has entered into the Canadian heart.

The Universities of Canada, funded by Canadian tax dollars, are called upon to uphold the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It is clear that a paradigm shift has occurred in Canadian culture, and we have exchanged the clear glasses of democratic rights for the tainted glasses of public opinion and political correctness.

James MacDonald, a spokesperson for Carleton stated that the graphic nature of the photos could cause offense and required that GAP set up at an alternative site. Does James MacDonald watch the History Channel or go to the movies? What decade is the leadership of the University stuck in? Has anyone seen the horror flicks that the youth of this generation are downloading?

Is anyone outraged at this incident? Does anyone actually think that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that no one will go through life and be offended at something sometime? I am offended at this travesty of justice. Some of you reading may be offended at my offense. Welcome to a free society.

Yes, the pictures may have been offensive to some people. The Time magazine photo of Aisha, an 18-year-old woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban may be offensive to some people. One look at pictures of the Holocaust may be upsetting to some people. Watching a World Vision documentary of starving children in Third World nations may be shocking to some people.

But, that’s the point. To the Taliban it is not offensive but righteous. To the Nazis it is not upsetting but part of the survival of the fittest. To the Third World nations, who walk by hungry children every day, it is not shocking but normal. Unfortunately, Canadians, who know no law protecting the rights of babies in the womb, need to be graphically warned about the state of their conscience. The fact that we have no law is barbaric.

I suppose the fact that some people can be shocked and offended is good. Maybe the heart of Canada can be saved. Maybe the soul of our society can be restored. Maybe the laws can be changed to protect the innocent and those who speak for them because they cannot speak for themselves. Maybe $130 for a moment of free speech is worth it.

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. Students are arrested because their educating of the Canadian soul was offensive to some. Roxanne’s Law, tabled April 14th, known as Bill C-510, one intended to protect vulnerable pregnant women from being coerced into having an abortion, languishes and may be dismissed forever. This is a sham.

I respect our Prime Minister on many fronts, but his refusal to allow Canadians to deal with the abortion issue, offends me. Yes, it is politically dangerous to do so, but it is equally dangerous to the heart of the nation not to do so. Though he acknowledged the division within the ranks of Canadians over this issue at the G8 and refused to fund abortion worldwide, he permits a double standard at home.

Silence is not golden. In this case, it is sullen. Refusal to address such a critically important issue has huge risks to Canada’s future, and emboldens actions against free speech on this subject as we have seen at Carleton. The next generation will assess whether they really felt protected by our silence.

Who will history remember and value? Our Prime Minister or five students fined $130 because they had a conviction about life?

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About the Author

Dr. David Kalamen is founder and lead pastor of Kelowna Christian Center (KCC). Married to Carleen for 35 years, they and their family, all living and working in Kelowna, have together been ministering to the people of this region for over 25 years. David cares deeply about the citizens of Kelowna and the state of the city, causing him to develop the Houses of Mercy program to help build compassionate community.

His column "Oh! Canada!" reflects his love for the Canadian people and this nation, and brings a refreshing perspective to local and national issues of common concern.

David has spoken at national and international conferences that have dealt with a wide range of leadership issues touching Christianity, politics, social justice, mercy missions and business. That call has taken him to over 20 nations. He has served on the General Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and is presently a faculty member of the Wagner Leadership Institute. David has authored a book, Life Purpose that has sold broadly throughout Canada.

If you want to contact Pastor Kalamen about this week's column please e-mail [email protected], call (250) 762-9559, or write to KCC at 905 Badke Road, Kelowna, V1X 5Z5.

Useful websites are:
Kelowna Christian Center: www.kcc.net
Heritage Christian School: www.heritagechristian.ca
Heritage Christian Online: www.onlineschool.ca
Global Ministry Training Center: www.gmtc.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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