Monday, March 25, 2013

Manitoba's Bill 18

Societal Control - "...Rev. Dr. James Christie directs the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy at the U of W. He said opposition to the legislation is not about religious freedom. “It’s essentially about control - societal control and that is clearly not a gospel value, and it is not something the Christian leadership quite frankly ought to ever promote,” said Christie. Christie said faith should not be so fragile that it could be shaken by teens who want to form a club at school..." - CBC News, Mar 11, 2013 (READ MORE)

Religious Freedom - "...The other problem with this bill is that it threatens religious freedom. Specifically, Bill 18 requires all schools, including independent faith-based schools, to facilitate student groups that may undermine the schools' religious values. In its enthusiasm to stamp out bullying, the Manitoba government appears prepared to run roughshod over the right of private religious schools to uphold their faith. If this sounds eerily familiar, look at what happened last year in Ontario. The McGuinty government's Bill 13, Accepting Schools Act, contained a similar provision mandating specific student groups in schools. Despite strong opposition from Catholic school boards, the government passed the legislation, ignoring their concerns. Obviously, some people will say that since some faith-based schools receive government funding, they should accept Bill 18 without question. However, the acceptance of funding should not eliminate the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Many parents, in fact, choose faith-based schools specifically because of the school's values. Until now, the Manitoba government has been careful to respect the religious freedoms of faith-based schools. But, public opposition to Bill 18 continues to grow. A website has recently been set up by opponents of Bill 18 (, which has resulted in hundreds of emails being sent to provincial politicians...." - Rodney A. Clifton and John C. Long, Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 20 2013 (READ MORE)

Protection from Bullying - "...We know clearly that young people need to be protected in this particular area. We know clearly that young people who are gay have higher rates of depression and mental health issues, they talk about suicide, they are harassed and bullied,” she said. Ms. Allan said a gay-straight alliance is simply a venue in which students can share their feelings and get support. “You’re just providing a space for young people to talk.” But Mr. Altein said a gay-straight alliance would be the same as a group demanding non-kosher food in school. “It would be wrong for a student of an Orthodox Jewish school to demand the right to eat a lunch of non-kosher food such as pork. It would be even more disrespectful for students to form an official group within the Jewish religious school to advocate for the ‘right’ to eat pork..." - Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press, Mar. 15 2013 (READ MORE)

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Bullying is an abusive treatment, the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when habitual and involving an imbalance of power. It may involve verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "targeted individual" (Wikipedia).