Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the comments by Mr. Nicholson and his advancing of the amendment. A very similar amendment is brought on the same clause by me. It's the LIB-2 amendment.
I want to say at the beginning that I think there are many parts of section 176 that are covered by other sections of the Criminal Code; however, when we are looking at the totality of this, it is different from some of the other provisions that would be deleted from the Criminal Code. This one is clearly not unconstitutional. I don't believe that it's clearly obsolete. There have been charges laid in recent times.
Also, I don't think it's clearly redundant, but I want to emphasize that there are many provisions of the Criminal Code that do cover almost everything in here. I think this is a little different and is not clearly redundant. I want to say, though, that if people are charged under other sections of the Criminal Code for causing a disturbance, or for other things that could amount to what is covered already in this section, I would suggest that clearly would be an aggravating factor on sentencing and would be treated differently, based on the circumstances of the offence.
However, in view of all of the other arguments that we heard at committee, and given that there is a seeming rising volatility in the level of intolerance that should be completely rejected, I'm persuaded that section 176 should remain in the code, that it does serve some purpose. I think that modernizing the language, as I have put forward in LIB-2, with these in there, but also a more inclusive type of definition to include “spiritual” service along with religious service, would be the right way to go.
All that said, I agree almost entirely with Mr. Nicholson and the rationale behind keeping section 176. That is why I proposed LIB-2. On the wording regarding the modernization, I prefer my amendment. That is why I won't be supporting his amendment, but voting in favour of mine, which is almost the same thing. I prefer the wording, and that's why I brought it forward.