Bill 24 Injunction Appeal - Court and Continuing to Pray
Last Monday morning was our long awaited day in court for the Bill 24 Injunction Appeal at the highest court in Alberta. I appreciate that you may or may not have read my brief and quickly written report right after being in court. You may have seen some of the news reports, which I will include for your reference below as well. I realized that one of the things that people may be less familiar with is that being in the Court of Appeal has a different focus than an initial hearing. The focus of the case is typically to convince the panel of three justices that they have grounds to overturn the decision of the lower court judge. Thus, it is more of a technical argument than you would have heard at the lower court, although the Appellants had applied to introduce a significant amount of new evidence.
On Monday, the JCCF had to focus on the task above, as well as make an argument for the admissibility of new evidence. Jay Cameron introduced two affidavits from children, amongst other items, who gave eye-witness testimony accounts about their personal experiences within GSA's. One of the striking things that was shared from those testimonies was that the promised popularity quickly evaporated when that child asserted they would identify in accordance with their biological sex. Another child was sadly given much information about how to have sex and given encouragement via cartoons and provisions, but it was only when these items were found by their mom that they were clearly advised of the very real and relevant health risks they could face. "The Government has mandated secrecy and abdicated responsibility." Jay stated forcefully. "Who," he asked, "will ultimately be responsible when something goes wrong? The government? The school? Parents?" Jay also argued that the Minister's actions had obviously belied the basis for the previous judgment and showed very clearly that the schools are facing a clear and present threat from the Minister. He provided the Trans Mountain Pipeline case in brief, and highlighted the required studies and consultations required in order to proceed with the project to protect environmental and indigenous interests, yet the Alberta government proceeded with Bill 24 absent any consultations or studies regarding the impact on children of restricting parental involvement. The court was visibly surprised and unable to miss the connection and comparison to our children as our greatest resource. (I'm still smiling about that one!)
The Crown appeared to be on the defensive, and proceeded to make statements which directly contradicted the guidelines and requirements that the current government has put in place. They were often interrupted by probing questions from the Appeal Justices, who evidenced concern regarding the immediate impact on the schools. The government also argued, as the Minister has publicly done, that the Appellate schools could and should comply with the legislation because other religious schools had complied. The Calgary Sexual Health Centre, made an argument that, although passionate, was surprisingly void of an actual legal framework. The claim that granting an injunction would send 'harmful and hurtful signals' was crafted to evoke an emotional response from the bench. In the mere 10 minutes provided for his closing argument, Jay was able to touch on the incongruity of the Crown's argument that parents could be told, but that they were not being told, due to government policies, as well as point out that schools complying out of fear was not the same as complying because they agreed with the mandated policies. He stated that, 'Schools are being forced to agree to withhold information from parents in order to obtain funding' and are being 'compelled, in order to be accredited'. He also drove home the point that there is "scant comfort" in getting a judicial review an average of two years after the initial complaint once you have already been closed.
Of course, much is left unsaid that you wish you could say or would have liked to have heard said. But the fact of the matter is that all the evidence is before the court, should they choose to avail themselves of it. Boxes of materials have been provided and the truth is in there. Now, before I move on to some specific prayer items, some have asked why or how this affects home schoolers. The fact is that, just like the private school families who are now either with a compliant or non-compliant board, so too are home school families. Our collective fate will be affected by this judgment, no matter what happens, and there will be reverberations felt throughout the community we share. When a private school, which has a home education administration attached to it, may be shut down by Alberta Education, this directly affects those who are registered at both the brick and mortar school and the home education program. We are seeing the response of families in both positions either moving away from the situation to something with more certainty, or using it as a show of support, with attendance increasing. I know that all of the people in leadership are informed about this topic and are willing to answer your careful questions, so look at the information and reach out to them directly. Please take seriously the opportunity to have conversations about this with those around you, in your community, families and at work. It's amazing how many people are still unaware of the basic facts of what this new law entails. There is so very much to pray for!
- That we had a day in court, and live still with laws that let you stand and make a case to defend against injustice.
- That we have been given lawyers who know and believe in God, and make an unapologetic stand for our freedoms and faith, with heads held high and no air of embarrassment.
- That Jay and Marty worked so hard on this case, compiled so much information and that they were able to clearly show the court the imminent danger faced by the schools.
- That God answered prayer and gave wisdom and quick thinking to Jay and Marty in Monday's hearing.
- That the prayers for the justices seemed fruitful, in as much as they were well aware and concerned, vocalizing and questioning the position of the government and its representative.
- That there was press in the room that have provided honest and factual information to the public, as too often these facts have been ignored to date.
- That God has arranged for Minister Eggen to continue giving the schools tax supplied funding that will last until the end of the school year, and we can trust Him for the future.
- That we could make a difference in this battle, whether you were praying from home, or were in the courtroom. You still can!!
- That we can come together to appeal to the Great Judge, in whom we are assured justice in the end, even if it doesn't come now.
- That God's people would not be weary in petitioning the Lord.
- That the three justices:
- would be diligent in their reading and homework.
- that political pressure would not bear on the decision.
- that they are able to consider the religious freedom framework and it's import (as brought forward by Alberto Polizogopoulos, who flew in from Ontario on behalf of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada).
- that the rights of the thousands of private school children at risk is considered just as much of a concern.
- That the people of Alberta would awaken to the truth of the vulnerability of their children, who can be (and are being) taken to a conference or other location off-site without their parent's knowledge or permission, as it would reveal their child's participation in a GSA.
- That children would be protected from harm as we await the injunction decision and as long as the GSA's exist.
- That we would have courage to discuss this with our co-workers, neighbours, friends and families, as many are ignorant of the truth/facts.
- That parents would see that children and teens are still children, and they need the protection of their families and homes, refusing to cede this to the government or be too distracted to notice the legal loss of these freedoms for parents and the protections for children.
- That we would see a continued awakening in our churches and leadership, seeing that this threat to remove Biblical truth will quickly extend to the church and our homes if not met with stiff opposition.
- That we would be prepared to continue the fight if necessary, in whatever way open to us, as God leads.
- That the people would seek to exercise their political will to affect change in a much more direct way than the court system.
Whew! That seems like a lot when you lay it out. It will be good to be praising and praying with you until we hear of a decision, whenever in the new year that may be!
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