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Canada's 2017 Bill C-51?

Bill C-51 (of 2017) was introduced in the House of Commons on June 6, 2017. Per the government's website, 

Bill C-51 is aimed at enhancing the Charter-consistency of federal laws in a number of ways. First, it imposes a new duty on the Minister of Justice to table a Charter Statement with every government bill. Second, it repeals or amends several Criminal Code provisions in order to better align them with the Charter and/or update them so they continue to be relevant in the 21st century. Finally, it clarifies the sexual assault provisions of the Criminal Code to reinforce protections for sexual assault complainants throughout the trial process, while preserving trial fairness for the accused.

For CFIC, Bill C-51 is most notable for its inclusion of language to repeal Criminal Code Section 296.  At long last, it seems that Canada will end this bad law.

BIll C-51 passed second reading in the House of commons On June 15, 2017.  At second reading, some debate occurred in the House but not opposition to the repeal of 296 appears to have risen:

Given our launch of opposition to 296 in the fall of 2014 CFIC is also pleased to note the indication of public support of the repeal:

TORONTOJune 28, 2017 /CNW/ - PEN Canada  today announced its support for the federal government's decision to repeal Section 296 (blasphemous libel) of the Canadian Criminal Code. Last used in 1935, the law treats blasphemy as an indictable offence punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould recently stated that the Liberal government will get rid of the section along with other antiquated "zombie laws" which remain in the Criminal Code despite being rendered obsolete by Supreme Court rulings.

"The repeal of this law will shield Canada from charges of hypocrisy when groups like ours denounce the denial of  religious freedom abroad - a freedom which must include the right not to practice religion ." said Richard Stursberg, President of PEN Canada.

Blasphemy laws remain active in 55 countries. In 2013, a report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union found that blasphemy or apostasy is a capital offence in 13 countries including AfghanistanIranMalaysiaNigeriaPakistanQatarSaudi Arabia and Yemen.
PEN Canada reserves comment on other sections of Bill C-59 - under which blasphemous libel will be repealed - including privacy concerns arising from the expanded breadth of the federal government's security information disclosure powers.

CJFE applauds legislation introduced by the federal government to repeal the Criminal Code offence of 'publishing blasphemous libel.' Canada's blasphemy law is a threat to free expression with no place in a modern secular society, and its repeal is long overdue.

A law prohibiting blasphemy should be anathema for any country that purports to value freedom of expression and freedom of religion - and that includes Canada. It's arguable that it never should have been drafted in the first place, but it certainly should have been scrapped long ago.

This bill is a step towards upholding freedom of expression and freedom of religion. We urge all MPs and Senators to rally behind this bill and ensure its speedy passage through Parliament.

Repeal of Canada's blasphemous libel law is a long-overdue advance of secularism in Canada.  Repeal of Canada's blasphemy sends a message to other country's throughout the world that blasphemy laws are bad laws that should be repealed - even where they seem to be mostly ineffectual. 

Dr. Richard Carrier Is Returning to Toronto

This is not a CFIC event, but many members will be eager to say hello to Dr. Richard Carrier:

Richard Carrier will be presenting his seminar on Why the Gospels Are Fiction, with a question and answer session afterwards. Dr. Carrier has a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University and has produced numerous peer reviewed publications on the study of Jesus and other subjects. This will be a prime opportunity to ask an accomplished and expert historian anything and everything pertaining to the historicity of Jesus and the historical reliability of the Gospels. His many books will be available for purchase; and on request Dr. Carrier will autograph them. Those books include On The Historicity Of Jesus, Proving History, Not The Impossible Faith, Why I Am Not A Christian, and more.

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