My first alarm bell went off when I realized that this poll had been commissioned by the National Post. As part of the CanWest Global group, which appears to be well on its way to becoming Fox News North(tm), I figured that the poll itself might be a trifle loaded.
Sure enough, a brief bit of digging turns up the the Poll itself.
The poll contained these questions:
1) Should an individual minister, rabbi, iman or other clergy have the freedom not to marry a same sex couple if this were against the clergy’s religious beliefs?
2) Should a school teacher have the freedom to disagree with the same sex law in a letter to a newspaper?
3) Should a religious person who prints brochures for a living have the freedom to recommend another printer to a homosexual group wanting some brochures printed?
4) So long as there are enough marriage commissioners available for gay marriages, should individual commissioners be allowed not to officiate at gay marriages if this is against their religious beliefs?
It then goes on to ask the following questions about parliament's involvement in the subject:
1) do you think Parliament should…Review the same sex law to make sure that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are fully protected?
2) do you think Parliament should…Review the same sex law to decide when freedom of speech and freedom of religion should or should not be protected
3) do you think Parliament should…Not review the freedom-related aspects of the law
This is about the most blatantly dishonest poll I've ever laid eyes on. First of all, the opening questions are based on largely bogus "talking points" such as the cases of Scott Brockie and Chris Kempling - which I debunked back here. Not only are the questions loaded, but they are vastly misleading. In the case of Brockie, it wasn't a matter of "religious freedom", it was a denial of service complaint - pure and simple. As for Kempling, his actions went far, far beyond merely writing a letter to the editor or two.
Question 1 was specifically addressed by the legislation in Bill C-38 as follows:
3. It is recognized that officials of religious
groups are free to refuse to perform marriages
that are not in accordance with their religious
3.1 For greater certainty, no person or
organization shall be deprived of any benefit,
or be subject to any obligation or sanction,
under any law of the Parliament of Canada
solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of
marriage between persons of the same sex, of
the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed
under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in
respect of marriage as the union of a man and
woman to the exclusion of all others based on
that guaranteed freedom.
The last question, regarding marriage commissioners bothers me further. For two reasons. First of all, marriage commissioners are solmenizing secular marriages - they are not specifically bound by any one faith. While I don't support "forcing" someone to do something they find morally objectionable, I do have concerns about blithely treating this as a matter of "religious freedom" and simply allowing refusal. (My feeling is that if you are going "refuse" something like this, then you are at least obliged to provide a referral to someone else who will - besides who wants their marriage solemnized by someone who is hostile to it?)
However, returning to the poll itself, the direction of questions in the opening scenarios opens up a whole raft of evil potentials. In particular, if the Brockie case were "allowed to stand", then we open a significant can of worms. For example, does that allow a doctor to refuse to treat a patient because they are gay, on the basis that the person's sexuality is offensive to the doctor's religion? Does it allow a doctor to refuse to prescribe oral contraceptives to a woman because the doctor is Catholic? Does it then justify a restaurant refusing service to a couple because they think the couple is gay? The answer to all of these is - potentially - yes, it certainly could be read that way.
If allowed to go to its logical extreme, one could begin denying service to members of specific religions because your own faith happens to believe that the other faith is "apostate".
Fundamentally, the poll is among the most dishonest polls I have ever seen. The questions are leading, and worse presuppose either outright hypothetical situations (that have not yet occurred), or misconstrues those that have already been evaluated. Both Compas research and the National Post should be embarrassed by this poorly designed, blatantly political poll.