History Blog

Pastors & Criminal Code Section 176

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Since 1867, the Criminal Code has been enshrined in our laws. Thanks to John A MacDonald who wrote MOST of the BNA ACT, because few of the Fathers of Confederation lacked the credentials and skills to propose Bills of the calibre needed for debate in the British House of Commons. The BNA Act brought us Confederation.

In 2017, Justin Trudeau sought to remove the Section (176) which protects clergy from government interference. Thank God that the outcry from the churches and the public was loud enough that Parliamentarians listened.

On November 9 2017, the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities wrote in their blog:

“For as long as Canada has had a criminal code it has been a crime to be violent towards religious officials or to disrupt a religious service. Those “crimes against religion” are contained in section 176 of the code, which makes it an offence to “unlawfully obstruct or prevent… a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function in connection with his calling,” or otherwise assaulting or committing violence against a clergyman or minister”.

Their blog continued: The Supreme Court of Canada’s most recent case dealing with Section 176 was in 1985. The Court noted, “There is no difficulty in concluding that this prohibition, with its consequent penal sanctions, serves the needs of public morality by precluding conduct potentially injurious to the public interest.” The lower courts continue to follow this as good law.

Am I looking forward to some class action lawsuits that should come from ‘left, right, and centre’ like we say in Trinidad. You bet!

Does the RCMP in Alberta and the OPP in Ontario know that they committed a criminal (felony) offence against pastors? Have they even heard of Section 176?

Did you know that EVERY new Bill proposed must meet the criteria of NOT harming the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter of Rights? Even the Emergency Measures Act?

Every law (health guidelines are not laws) must be passed in a manner that does not harm your freedom of association, worship, speech, work etc,. So, could it be that all the inconsistent Covid measures, applied in a way that was prejudicial to pastors, can be challenged?

I am no legal scholar, but to my pea-brain, it seems like there’s a double-whammy here. Police officers, it seems, committed felony acts against pastors (Section 176 of the CC) especially by jailing James Coates, PLUS they violated pastors’ Charter Rights.

The preamble to the amendment of the Criminal Code as per Bill C-51 (including Section 176) says in paragraph 2:

This enactment also amends the Department of Justice Act to require that the Minister of Justice cause to be tabled, for every government Bill introduced in either House of Parliament, a statement of the Bill’s potential effects on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Paragraphs 176(1)‍(a) and (b) of the Act are replaced by the following:

(a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent an officiant from celebrating a religious or spiritual service or performing any other function in connection with their calling, or

(b) knowing that an officiant is about to perform, is on their way to perform or is returning from the perform­ance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a)

(i) assaults or offers any violence to them, or

(ii) arrests them on a civil process, or under the pretense of executing a civil process,

Royal Assent: Statutes of Canada: 2018, c. 29, 2018-12-13

So, was a felony committed against Pastor James Coates as well as impinging on his charter rights and freedoms?

This video which specifically speak to pastors is worth EVERY MINUTE of your time. You will come away educated. Every Canadian, especially Christian Canadians, should watch this! Please share far and wide.

Many of the current draconian measures, under the constitution, cannot trump our Charter Rights – freedom of association, worship, speech, work etc.

And check out Action4Canada’s Trespass Notice HERE to keep the churches safe.

Author’s Note; Lynette is the owner of ChristianRoots Canada. She spent almost 3 years in Pittsburgh where her husband attended The Reformed Presbyterian Seminary. They are back in Canada for an undetermined period of time while God works out exactly where they ought to be serving Him in His kingdom. They have been experiencing many challenges in this journey back to Canada. She is blogging about them to keep perspective. Thanks for joining her on this journey.

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