All rights are sup­posed to be equal, says MP David An­der­son

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - ELIS­A­BETH DOW­SON

Cy­press Hills-Grass­lands MP David An­der­son is voic­ing his op­po­si­tion to the Saskatchew­an Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ac­cept Court of Ap­peal’s mar­riage com­mis­sioner rul­ing.

“ The court’s con­clu­sion that forc­ing Com­mis­sion­ers to per­form mar­riages was ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause it did not threaten their pri­vate re­li­gious be­liefs, or their right to wor­ship, guar­an­tees that re­li­gious and faith rights will be treated as a sec­ond-tier hu­man right in the fu­ture. This de­ci­sion will en­sure the on­go­ing den­i­gra­tion of a right that has played a ma­jor role in cre­at­ing the coun­try we have to­day,” An­der­son said in a Jan. 18 press re­lease.

“I was try­ing to ad­dress the is­sue of re­li­gious free­dom and re­li­gious rights. In our char­ter these rights are all sup­posed to be equal.

“ There’s not sup­posed to be a hi­er­ar­chy of rights.

“My fo­cus on this is that it is not fair to ex­pect that there are a group of peo­ple who can­not bring their opin­ions into the pub­lic realm, in this age and this coun­try that we live in. A di­ver­sity of opin­ions and a di­ver­gence of opin­ions should and can be re­spected and we should be able to make the ac­com­mo­da­tion to han­dle that.

“Peo­ple who have a faith com­mit­ment, what­ever it is - and ev­ery­body has val­ues - ex­pect to be able to live in a way that is con­sis­tent with what they be­lieve, so there’s an ac­com­mo­da­tion for both the re­li­gious rights of peo­ple who have an ob­jec­tion to this, as well as for the rights of peo­ple who choose to get mar­ried.

“ The prov­ince said they were look­ing for a way to ac­com­mo­date. They were look­ing at bring­ing a cou­ple of pieces of leg­is­la­tion for­ward, they asked the court to rule on them be­fore they brought them for­ward, and the court said no, this does not fit. And it was in­ter­est­ing.

“ The judges in their de­ci­sion ba­si­cally said that be­cause re­quir­ing these mar­riage com­mis­sion­ers to per­form these mar­riages did not im­pact their pri­vate re­li­gious be­liefs or their op­por­tu­nity of meet­ing with peo­ple of sim­i­lar be­liefs, it did not im­pact their re­li­gious rights.

With the new rul­ing, a mar­riage com­mis­sioner might pos­si­bly feel an un­com­fort­able obli­ga­tion that con­flicts with his or her faith per­spec­tive, and will be forced by this rul­ing to weigh that con­flict against the prospect of job loss if the obli­ga­tion to per­form a mar­riage is not met.

“My point was that the court’s at­tempt to pri­va­tize re­li­gious faith per­spec­tive must be op­posed. The mar­riage com­mis­sion­ers them­selves have said that. I think that there was an op­por­tu­nity here to reach an ac­com­mo­da­tion,” An­der­son said.

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