Not convinced by false equivalence argument

Re: False equivalences in our public discourse

Mr. Henderson attempts to take the high road and in doing so makes two points that are unsupported by both the Charter and jurisprudence.

Henderson states that if the City allowed a pro-life sidewalk it, “would be an activist statement showing the city condones a position in violation of the Supreme Court of Canada.” The Supreme Court has never said the debate on abortion was closed. In the most high profile case regarding abortion, the R.v.Morgentaler decision, the justices clearly articulated that it was Parliament’s duty to pass laws that protected foetal rights at some point in the pregnancy. Justices Beetz and Estey, two members of the court, felt that Parliament was justified in requiring a “reliable, independent and medically sound opinion in order to protect the state interest in the foetus.” Justice Bertha Wilson, the only woman on the bench at the time said, “The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest in its protection becomes ‘compelling’ I leave to the informed judgement of the legislature which is in a position to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines. It seems to me, however, that it might fall somewhere in the second trimester.”

Today Canada is the only country in the world with no foetal protection at any stage of pregnancy. Not only is initiating a public discussion on abortion regulations legal, it’s absolutely necessary.

The second incorrect claim Henderson makes is that there is a false equivalence made when the City states they are unable “to pick and choose between applicants.” The report Henderson quotes from is entirely accurate. In fact, if the City granted permission for a pro-life sidewalk and then denied a rainbow sidewalk, or vice-versa, they would be in violation of Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.

The purpose of the Charter is to act as a shield to ensure that governments cannot violate the rights of Canadians. Freedom of speech is something that the courts vigourously protect. It’s certainly not up to a city government to say what speech is allowed and what speech isn’t.

Unfortunately Henderson’s claim that his side is all about information rings hollow when he presents false claims and doesn’t back up his own statements with the facts.

Mike Schouten

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