Opposition Pressure Forces Government to Amend Bill C-51 to Protect Religious Freedoms

November 9, 2017

Opposition Pressure Forces Government to Amend Bill C-51 to Protect Religious Freedoms


Ottawa, ON – Larry Miller, Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, is pleased that, after consistent pressure from the Official Opposition, the Federal Government has amended Bill C-51 – An Act amend the Criminal Code of and the Department of Justice Act to reverse their plan to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code which pertains to the protection of religious officials and the freedom to worship peacefully without disturbance.


Bill C-51 was introduced in the House of Commons by the Government in June of 2017. The bill contains a number of measures that seek to modernize the Criminal Code. However, clause 14 of Bill C-51 proposed to remove Section 176 of the Criminal Code. Section 176 is the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion. Section 176 defines offences that obstruct or prevent clergymen or ministers from performing functions of their religion as well as offences related to willfully interfering with religious ceremonies.


The Official Opposition responded to public outcry in regards to this legislation and proposed amendments to remove clause 14 from Bill C-51 to keep Section 176 in the Criminal Code. Yesterday, the Standing Committee Justice and Human Rights, voted in favour of this amendment.


“I am very pleased to see that the Government will finally listen to the concerns of Canadians and has agreed to keep Section 176 in the Criminal Code,” said Miller. “My office has been inundated with e-mails from concerned constituents and I, along with my colleagues in the Official Opposition, have made sure these concerns have been heard. Section 176 is vitally important to protect freedom of religion in Canada – especially in a time when attacks on religious institutions are becoming more prevalent. I thank all of those that wrote to me with their concerns.”


For more information on Bill C-51 please visit; https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&billId=9002286.