All members of BCHA, please plan to attend to help determine the direction of your organization for the next year.    Here is a link to the  Constitution – 2013

of the BC Humanist Association.

It was an honour and privilege for me to be present with representatives from BCCLA and supporters to hear the Supreme Court ruling early on Friday morning. We initially received a short message stating that the appeal had been won. An overwhelmed silence ensued, not applause or joy. We needed to hear more. Josh Paterson called in shortly afterward to verify the ruling, and to let us know it was unanimous! 9-0!
At this point the cheers rang out and a few quiet tears were shed. Joe Arvay, lead counsel, joined us with his wife Connie and humbly thanked everyone for their work, and the Supreme Court justices for their wisdom. Both Joe and Howard Shapray commented on the comprehensive nature of the factums presented and the diligence of Sheila Tucker, Alison Latimer and Grace Pastine, (not to mention his own work).  A former President of BCCLA gently admonished Joe for his own humility and thanked him for his work in the Carter vs Canada case.
This is undoubtedly a historic day for Canada, and it started here in BC. We would not be here without the courage of Lynn Smith who ruled for this case in 2012, and the hard work of the BCCLA team who persisted in the appeal. The perseverance and single mindedness of Dying With Dignity needs to be commended, particularly CEO Wanda Morris.
Uppermost in everyone’s mind are the brave individuals who fought for this ruling. Sue Rodriguez, Kay Carter, Susan Griffiths,  and Gloria Taylor, among others.
I have been working on behalf of Dying With Dignity for two years and can attest to the many hours of work that typical Canadian citizens like myself have invested in this important issue. Today was a day demonstrating democracy at its best. The judges in their ruling found an intersection of reason and compassion representative of the will of the majority of Canadians.
The 85 page ruling is available on the SCC website.
Yours in gratitude,
Sue Hughson,
President BC Humanist Association

This story from cbc.ca gives the details of today’s Canadian Supreme Court victory for Dying with Dignity.  This historic ruling represents a victory for compassion over blind adherence to outmoded “suffering is good for the soul” ideology.  While it has been clear to an overwhelming majority of the Canadian population for a long time now, this decision makes it clear in law that it is NOT a criminal act to help a friend or loved one end pointless suffering in the manner of the patient’s clearly expressed choice.   The spurious slippery slope arguments put up against this concept have now failed in law as they have failed in the public debate.  This is a Good Day for human progress.

This past week, Dying With Dignity (DWD) announced that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has annulled its charitable status. The CRA had been auditing DWD’s political activities and ruled it was wrong to grant the organization charitable status when it was first registered. This news follows a string of recent audits of charities, which started in 2012 when the Harper Government sought to crackdown on charities they worried were getting too political. Under Canadian law, a registered charity cannot devote more than 10% of its resources (money and time) to political campaigning and cannot support or oppose a particular politician or political party.

DWD had registered as an educational charity in 1982 and most of its work involves educating people about patient rights and advance care planning and the case for physician assisted dying. They also offer one-on-one support to individuals who are dying and want to do so on their own terms. DWD also advocates for changes to Canadian law to allow for compassionate options at the end of life. They are active in supporting a Supreme Court challenge to Canada’s ban on assisted suicide.

What’s most concerning about the CRA decision, for me, is not that DWD was found to be too political (it wasn’t) but that it was ruled to not qualify as an educational charity. Because DWD doesn’t have the resources for a lengthy and expensive appeal, this decision could have wide-ranging implications for other charities that come under the newly emboldened CRA-audit squad.

In particular, this could threaten the charitable status of humanist and secular organizations across the country.

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HemantArminMeetup

Click here  to go to eventbrite.ca to purchase tickets for this event.

Yesterday’s events are one in the long and horrific history of atrocities committed by dogmatic religious extremists who live in fear of open criticism and free expression. Yet even in this darkness, the spirit of humanity can still be seen in the tens of thousands of people who poured into the streets of Paris and cities across Europe to stand in solidarity with the fallen journalists and officers. We must capture this resilience and respond with the same spirit as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg following the 2011 shootings in Norway: “Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity. We will answer hatred with love.”

I hope you will join us in plotting a more free and peaceful course for all of humanity into the future.

The BC Humanist Association welcomes you to join us in our work to build a meaningful diverse secular community.

-Sue Hughson, President, BC Humanist Association.

Here is a link to a statement on this atrocity by the British Humanist Association.

… And here is a link to the English translation of the first editorial from Charlie Hebdo after the massacre.

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to read our press release and statement on the proposed Trinity Western University law school.

The position statement is to be ratified at the next Board meeting – next week – so exact wording may change, but there’s a consensus among the Board that we should be taking a stand on this issue.

I also wanted to share the letter I just sent to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Degree Quality Assessment Board of the Government of BC. I encourage you to write to these organizations as well, using your own or a similar letter.

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It was another sunny afternoon for our fourth annual march in the Vancouver Pride Parade.

This year we had our largest contingent yet, with 35 marchers who came from Chilliwack to Whistler to the Sunshine Coast. Here’s some photos I managed to take during the day.

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