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Despite the failure of Maurice Vellacott’s conscience legislation to get the full hearing it
deserved in Parliament on November 18, the Saskatchewan MP’s efforts and House of Commons
speech on the bill have laid the groundwork for future initiatives on this issue.

The future may not be long in coming if the Senate conscience bill makes its way through
Parliament in a timely fashion. Also, in late-breaking news, Mr. Vellacott contacted LifeSite
to report that his bill can be reintroduced in its current form, but with a new number.

His bill first entered the schedule of Parliamentary business after being drawn through the
traditional random draw process for Private Members’ Business. Since Vellacott’s bill has
collected the support of 100 MPs under relatively new rules, his bill is still in the line-
up of proposed legislation to be drawn from that additional process, he says, following
confirmation from Parliamentary officials.

Discussing the maltreatment of nurses in Canada’s aggressive pro-abortion environment, one
of the first points Mr. Vellacott made highlighted the discrimination that exists between
the rights of doctors and those of nurses. The mantra that abortion is simply a decision
between a woman and her doctor is false, he said, pointing out the direct involvement nurses
have to play in the procedure. Nevertheless, “while doctors are free to perform or not
perform abortions, and while pregnant women are free to undergo or not undergo an abortion,
nurses have not been given the same freedom to choose whether or not they want to participate
in this procedure,” he explained.

Mr. Vellacott also noted that the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association, which
applies to doctors, acknowledges the importance of respecting conscience rights. Tory MP Greg
Thompson, in his House of Commons speech on the bill reinforced this point, although he did
not use this matter of discriminatory treatment in deference to doctors as a basis for
demanding equal treatment for nurses.

Where is the legal protection?

Mr. Vellacott spent some time discussing the legal precedents protecting nurses’ freedom of
religion and conscience. First, he drew attention to such protection in section 2 of the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also noted that these same rights are identified in the
Canadian Human Rights Act as well as provincial human rights bills. Furthermore, he added,
“there is precedent in the fact that case law in both charter cases and in human rights cases
overwhelmingly supports the protection of freedom of conscience and religion.”

He expressed confidence that nurses would win cases brought to court in defence of their
rights, but asked “why would we want to put those nurses through that stress, through the
great cost and through the time before they get some justice for the situation?”

One of the reasons given for the federal government’s upcoming omnibus legislation covering
a large number of same-sex legal changes is that the Liberals don’t want to face the mounting
number of lawsuits pending on same-sex benefits cases. Pro-family Canadians want to know why
the feds are so concerned about avoiding confrontation with the homosexualist lobby while at
the same time they seem disinterested in taking a pro-active position on the abortion-related
violation of nurses’ rights.

The Parliamentary health secretary argued that the criminal code was not “a suitable legal
vehicle” for protecting the constitutional rights of nurses; he also argued that the issue
belonged in provincial jurisdiction. Greg Thompson concurred with this point. Many pro-
lifers, having worked on a legal strategy on this issue for many years, however, believe that
the criminal code (which is federal jurisdiction) is the place to guarantee protection for
nurses because this will ensure uniform legislation across the country.

Nurses “need the broader protection of the federal government,” Mr. Vellacott noted in his
speech. He said that 45 of the 50 American states have some form of conscience legislation on
the books, but they provide only “a patchwork of protection” because they vary in nature and
scope from state to state.

Responding to criticism about his proposed approach to resolving the issue, the Reform MP put
the ball back in the government’s court: “If there are better ideas in terms of the
protection of health care workers, we are certainly open to them, but nothing has been
forthcoming so far.”

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