Readers will know that I do not like to get involved in politics because a person’s words can be manipulated, twisted and taken out of context. However, I feel compelled to comment on recent developments at the provincial legislature.
On Sun., May 1, a petition from a group known as Centre for Inquiry (CFI) was presented at the legislature. The document requested prayer be dropped as part of daily proceedings in the legislature. It also called on the premier to stop his annual Christmas message or make it religiously neutral.
Premier Brad Wall responded a day later saying Christian prayer will remain part of legislative proceedings. CBC quoted the premier as saying, “There are a few people that would like to remove the prayer from the start of the legislative proceedings or my Christmas message, but I don’t think they’re reflective of the majority of the province.”
“I don’t want to see the prayer changed, and I would work against seeing the prayer removed from the legislature. I think it is important and it should continue.”
Thank you Mr. Wall for speaking up for “the majority of the province” and not caving in to the lobbying efforts of a small group that I believe has its own social agenda.
Even the first Muslim elected in Saskatchewan (Muhammad Fiaz) said the majority of people agree with the prayer and he feels it should not be eliminated since it is a tradition and a blessing.
In fact, the CFI petition is misleading and was simply a publicity stunt in my opinion. Its wording contains this sentence, “Saskatchewan residents are now submitting this complaint and requesting . . .”
However, no one polled me or my wife on this matter. Furthermore, anyone I asked about the petition could not recall being questioned or signing such a document, so who are the residents it represents? I wondered how many people actually supported the petition and could not find that information on the organization’s web site. Therefore, I phoned and asked. It turns out the petition had no more than 225 signatures. In the week following its submission at The Leg, the number of supporters that had signed up (largely through the Internet) swelled to 325 after the matter received considerable media coverage.
The numbers say it all. The province’s population was 1,142,500 in January of 2016, so 225 signatures is a fraction of a fraction of all residents. The petition represents less than 0.0002 per cent of our population, so its presenters were very liberal when they stated, “Saskatchewan residents are now submitting this complaint . . .” They may have technically been correct, but they were actually using the event and media coverage to further their cause – their own ideas of what Saskatchewan residents should want. This is an example of how minority groups can advance their ideas and agendas by portraying them as the sentiments of people in general.
The website for Centre for Inquiry has a headline that states, “Saskatchewan Wants a Secular Government. CFI Saskatchewan complains to Brad Wall.” At least the last half of the headline (the statement about CFI Saskatchewan complaining) is correct. I will refrain from my usual discourse about a lack of ethics and standards on the Internet and allow CFI’s actions to speak for its members.
The article contains an interesting paragraph regarding religion and prayer, but the principle that it proposes undermines traditional values across this great nation. It states, “The Centre for Inquiry Canada’s stance is that tradition cannot be used as an excuse to potentially violate human rights. It is an established principle that minorities require protection from the will of the majority. Protection of all people begins with favouring none; therefore, any action by government that excludes a part of the community must be rejected.”
The inference is that a public prayer somehow excludes or degrades any and all minorities and must therefore be rejected. That is totally false. It is no secret that public prayers were being made across this land prior to European settlement and throughout the development of Canada as a country. In fact, it’s during times of affluence such as now that people forget the importance being thankful, especially in prayer.
Then well-intentioned individuals and organizations start thinking minority rights are being devalued and they throw out the long-established traditions of Canadians who also have rights.
Another disconcerting aspect of CFI’s petition is media ate up the presentation as if it was a heated issue that is causing all kinds of social unrest. Shame on the media for allowing themselves to be manipulated and in turn serving that information to the public as big news. Journalists are trained to look for the truth and watch for deceptive tactics and ulterior motives, yet I think they and their editors dropped the ball this time.
According to CFI, their “mission is to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry . . .” On that note, a spokesman for the organization told me they wanted to make sure the Saskatchewan public is aware of what’s going on at the legislature. The organization achieved its goal by craftily using the media and creating a petition by 225 residents. They simply forgot to mention it represents less than 0.0002 per cent of the population (who also have their religious rights protected in the Charter of Rights).