VANCOUVER, April 26, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA) intervened last Thursday before the BC Court of Appeals, in the case of beleaguered teacher Chris Kempling against the BC College of Teachers. Kempling was suspended for one month without pay for writing a letter to the editor of his local Quesnel, BC, newspaper criticizing the Liberal government’s same sex marriage legislation.
As an intervener in the appeal of the judgment against teacher Chris Kempling, CRFA emphasized that freedom of religion and expression, as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedom, is not limited to individuals in their “personal capacity” but is a freedom that is extended to both their personal and professional capacity.Â
BC Supreme Court Justice Ronald Holmes ruled in February 2004 that professionals are not protected by the Charter when speaking publicly in their professional capacity.
David M. Brown, co-counsel for CRFA, in oral submissions Friday argued that labelling the content of speech as “discriminatory” is not sufficient to justify an infringement of a person’s freedom of expression or religion – evidence of actual harm caused by the speech is required.
According to Ruth Ross, Executive Director of Christian Legal Fellowship, a member of the CRFA, “Upholding the B.C. Supreme Court ruling would create a chilling effect on professionals speaking out on matters of public interest especially if they wish to speak out on the unpopular, controversial or ‘politically incorrect’ side of an issue, for fear of incurring the wrath of their professional body for ‘conduct unbecoming a professional.’”
Meanwhile, the BC Civil Liberties Association, a group that claims to champion free speech, argued against Kempling in court Friday, claiming that his censorship was warranted. Kempling’s comments criticizing the homosexual lifestyle interfered with his professional position as a student counsellor, the group claimed.
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