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Different provinces,
different legal precedents

TORONTO – It seems a little like “the empire strikes back”, or maybe “is striking back” against the counterculture movement that can brook no variant to its own view of the world order. The Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench overturned decision by the University of Manitoba Medical Department (UofM)to expel one of its students for his pro-life views.

Credit the National Post, and its reporter Tyler Dawson, for obtaining the Court records and decision by Judge Ken Champagne that the UofM had erred in both substance and process. Moreover, on the fundamental issue of freedom of conscience and religion, Justice Champagne gave great cause to the supporters of the Plaintiff Rafael Zaki to celebrate the upholding of those rights under the Charter.

In other words, it is not illegal to hold a pro-life view. We were not able to independently ascertain that the judge is or is not an “activist” for any particular position from the Court’s chair. However, it would appear that Justice Champagne was none too pleased with the idea that any tribunal would be “stacked” by the “lynch-mob” in the University’s administration to ensure a biased outcome – in a university environment supposedly nurturing of free thought, no less.

In Ontario, today, interested parties are already drawing parallels to the case of [Trustee] Del Grande v Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Minister of Education. On the substance, radical activists, who may or may not have an interest tin Catholicism, prevailed on the Minister of Education to issue Policy directives to [Catholic] school boards requiring that they recognize the primacy of the Human Rights Code over those of Catholic doctrine.

Whether one agrees with it or not, the Constitution protects the rights to hold and promote that doctrine; they are embedded in the Education Act; protected by the Charter of Rights and secured even in the Human Rights Code. Furthermore, those rights apply only to Catholics who decide to attend Catholic schools. Trustees are by law elected to promote those rights as defined by the magisterium, to whom they swear an oath of allegiance upon taking office and which they repeat every year.

Some trustees accept their legal and moral obligations better than others. In heated public, on the record, debate, Del Grande made statements that, while “correct”, were deemed “hurtful” by some sensitive people present. Following an inquiry, the Board exonerated him of any infringement of the Trustee’s Code of conduct.

Two months later, apparently on the instigation of and orchestration by the Minister, the Board reversed itself in a second vote. When the Corriere filed a Freedom of Information request, the Ministry withheld 35 of 40 pages it indicated might have the pertinent information. We have appealed that decision. The five released reveal at least that there was communication between him, the Ministry and the relevant Board officials on the matter.

Independent of the Corriere, Del Grande filed for Judicial Review in the Divisional Court, alleging, among other issues, breaches of process, abuse of position and overstepping of authorities. Those who followed the controversy in the first person (as did the Corriere) would describe the entire process as one of the more reasonable trustees did: abominable. The issues took on a personal nature even as research has uncovered that three of the more aggressive trustees may not even be “eligible Catholic electors”, as per the Education Act.

Several libel, slander and defamation lawsuits have been filed, in which Corriere is a party. Del Grande’s case is now before a Judge Corbett. He is an “activist judge”, deciding in matters touching on his area of activism. The clerk of the Court confirmed to the Corriere that Corbett J has not recused himself.

Do you wonder what Judge Champagne from the Manitoba Court would advise?

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