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Rights and Freedoms

Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario

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PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
HISTORY
DEFINITIONS
THE PHENOMENON
DEPROGRAMMING
THE DEBATE
ONTARIO
RECOMMENDATIONS
CONCLUSIONS
qnote.gif (173 bytes) Forewords
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The Issue in Perspective

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Rights and Freedoms
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Protection of Rights
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Jehovah's Witnesses
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Ontario Initiative
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Human Rights Laws
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Bill 99
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) McRuer Commission
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Pondering Alternatives
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Brainwashing and Hypnosis
qnote.gif (173 bytes) Health
qnote.gif (173 bytes) Threat to Society
qnote.gif (173 bytes) Threat to the Family
qnote.gif (173 bytes) Deception and Fraud
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Deprogramming
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General Conclusions
While the study was guided by the libertarian principles expounded by Chief Justice Laskin, it also remained acutely aware of the historical evolution of those rights and restrictions about which the judge wrote. That history has been a long one; it dates back at least seven centuries. It also has been highlighted by displays of incredible human courage in the face of unimaginable suffering and persecution. In other words, the rights and freedoms enjoyed today have been highly refined through time and human endeavor. Any government that contemplates action that might affect them should do so only in the light of a clear awareness of how they have come down to us.

Perhaps, then, it is appropriate to consider briefly some of the historical landmarks in the evolution of our rights and freedoms.

The signing of the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, is generally regarded as the seminal event in the development of Western libertarian principles. On that day, King John of England, succumbing to the protests of his barons, set his seal to a monumental charter of liberties. In essence, that charter gave the just rights of the individual as defined in law supremacy over the will of the king. Magna Carta affirmed the principle that monarchs were accountable for their actions. Ultimately, this responsibility shifted to the king's ministers, who held office at the will of a representative Parliament elected by the people.

Early human rights statutes in English history frequently sat side by side with discriminatory legislation. For example, the Marriage Act of 1753 required all persons other than Jews and Quakers to be married in the parish church according to the rites of the Church of England. The Conventicle Act of Charles II in 1664 made it an offence for more than five persons to meet for worship other than according to the rituals of the Church of England. Glen How, counsel for the Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada, reminds us that:

It was under this statute [Conventicle Act] that constables of the City of London locked the church of the Quaker, William Penn. The latter stood on his church steps to address the congregation and thereupon was arrested for rioting. A most disgraceful trial followed. The jury found him guilty of "speaking and preaching." So eager was the court to convict that it ordered the jury imprisoned for two days without food or water in an effort to force a conviction for rioting. When they still adamantly refused, the jurors were fined 40 marks each and committed to prison.

Over the ensuing centuries, however, the British Parliament enacted many legislative measures to safeguard basic freedoms and extend human rights. Ultimately, the enduring rectitude of early English human rights statutes had a decisive influence in Canada where federal and provincial Parliaments also introduced legislative protections for rights and freedoms.

Unlike the United States, where protection for rights and freedoms is guaranteed and provided for under the Constitution, we have relied largely on a series of legislative measures enacted from time to time by our Parliaments to protect our liberties in Canada. Furthermore, we have tended to believe that the best r hope for protection of our fundamental freedoms lies in the fair-mindedness of our parliamentary graditions. We do not have an entrenched Bill of Rights. Canada's constitution, the British North America Act, does provide some such protections in the area of freedom of religion and association, but they are few and indirect. The main protection at the federal level lies in the Criminal Code. Even at that, it lies not so much in what the Code does say as in what it does not say. Professor Scott explains this point in an article entitled, "Dominion Jurisdiction over Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms":

At Confederation the only religious matters mentioned in the B.N.A. Axt are to be found in Section 93 securing certain denominational rights to separate schools against provincial change, though provincial laws relating to property and taxation will affect the churches in many ways. The general right to practice the religion of one's choice in Canada must rest on the fact that no religion is made criminal, as some have been in our past history. Hence we find the Criminal Code dealing with religion by prohibiting blasphemy in section 198, but at the same time protecting the freedom of religious thought by providing that no one commits a blasphemous libel who expresses in good faith and in decent language "any opinion whatever upon any religious subject." Freedom of worship exists because no province could prevent it and the federal Parliament has not made any religion a crime.

Many other fundamental rights are likewise in federal keeping. Freedom of association is a public right within the ambit of the criminal law; by defining seditious conspiracies and unlawful assembles the Criminal Code permits all kinds of associations which do not come within the prohibitions. No province could validly legislate to prevent any type of associations from forming, or meeting from assembling.

 

 

The rights and freedoms enjoyed today have been highly refined through time and human endeavor. Any government that contemplates action that might affect them should do so only in the light of a clear awareness of how they have come down to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So eager was the court to convict that it ordered the jury imprisoned for two days without food or water in an effort to force a conviction for rioting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The general right to practice the religion of one's choice in Canada must rest on the fact that no religion is made criminal, as some have been in our past history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of association is a public right within the ambit of the criminal law.

 

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