Canadian Parliament Seeks to Declare April 2nd ‘Pope John Paul II Day’

Nine times out of ten, the religious shenanigans that take place in the United States make Canadian non-theists look across the border, skeptical eyebrows cocked, and say, “For real, you guys?”

But every now and again, there will be a religious brouhaha here in Canada that keeps us Canucks aware of the need for vigilance against the encroachment of religion into governance.

Here’s an example:

Our House of Commons recently passed a bill declaring April 2 “Pope John Paul II Day.” (The date was chosen based on the anniversary of the pontiff’s death in 2005, and not for its proximity to April Fools’ Day.) It’s no joke; Canada’s parliament is serious about honoring this longtime leader of the Catholic Church.

The bill received support from all parties, with only 42 Members of Parliament voting against it, compared to 217 for it. (All 42 opponents were members of the New Democratic Party; you may wish to remember that come election time.) The bill was proposed by Wladislaw Lizon, MP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, who argued that the bill was not religious in nature, but aimed at recognizing all the good acts of the late pontiff:

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Quebec Court of Appeal Rules That City Council’s 20-Second Prayer to ‘All-Powerful God’ is Perfectly Legal

In 2006, atheist Alain Simoneau told the city council of Saguenay, Quebec (Canada) that they needed to stop reciting a prayer at their meetings. It took years for a lawsuit to get filed and for a local court to issue a ruling, but in 2011, Quebec’s human-rights tribunal stopped the city from holding its 20-second prayer to “all-powerful God.” The tribunal also made the council take down a crucifix that was on the wall and pay $30,000 in damages to Simoneau. While the case was in progress, the prayer was replaced with a (still excruciatingly long) two-minute moment of silence.

Yesterday, Quebec’s Court of Appeal reversed that ruling (PDF, in French), somehow making the absurd case that “reciting a prayer does not violate the religious neutrality of the city.”

… the hell?

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Religious People Don’t Need Helmets, Right?

Manitoba’s Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau just introduced some very sensible legislation. Bill 37 would make it illegal for children under the age of 18 to ride a bike (even as a passenger) without a helmet. If you’re caught without a helmet, you could be fined for up to $50 (or face an alternative punishment [Read More…]