LGTBQ people not welcome at BC law school

Last summer, Trinity Western University, a private liberal-arts school in B.C. applied to have its law school accredited by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Controversy arose within the legal and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities because all students, staff and faculty at the school must adhere to a covenant in which they  agree not to engage in “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

So what’s the harm, you may ask?  Why shouldn’t a private university be able to set standards of behaviour for its students?  How will anyone else suffer?  Well, according to lawyer Clayton Ruby, the covenant in effect creates a “queer quota” in university law schools. Trinity Western law school would add 60 to the 3,547 slots Canadian universities currently have allocated for first-year law students. But, as Ruby says, “If you’re queer, you can’t apply to the extra 60 seats… We find that just to be anathema.”

Read the rest of the Globe and Mail article, here

Read the editorial, here

Read Canadian Atheist’s commentary, here.

Check out No Queer Quota – For Equality in Legal Education on Facebook

Whether marching in Pride parades, defending GSAs in Ontario, speaking out against troublesome legislation or providing educational programs across the country, CFI’s valuable work needs your generous support. Please click here to donate or join as a friend of the Centre for Inquiry–Canada.

Ask the “religion experts” – a secular humanist perspective

Kevin Smith, chair of the board of CFI Canada, is a member of a panel of “religion experts”  for a weekly column  in the Ottawa Citizen

Here’s an excerpt from Kevin’s response to the question for the week of 20 July which asks: Why should we take the advice of so-called religious experts?

No advice from a self-professed religious expert should be taken as gospel when it violates human equality. It is imperative that we criticize those who call homosexuals intrinsically disordered or treat women as second-class citizens.

Read more here, and check back next week for updates on the latest column.

Special Event

CFI Okanagan is collaborating with Okanagan College’s Department of Geography and Earth & Environmental Science for this event.

Okanagan College Lecture Theatre (S104), 1000 KLO Rd.

7pm, Wednesday 21st August

This event is free to paid-up members of CFI Canada, $5 to the general public.

About the presentation:

Late Cretaceous amber recovered from the Grassy Lake locality in southern Alberta provides an important and remarkably diverse collection of fossil inclusions from approximately 78 million years ago. With the recent resurgence in work on this material, many new insects have been discovered, and we have also gained a better understanding of the amber-producing forest that existed at the time. Rare inclusions of minute feather fragments have also provided one of the most complete snapshots of plumage diversity, structure and colouration available for the Mesozoic. Although tiny, these inclusions appear to represent feathers indistinguishable from those of modern birds, alongside simple ‘protofeathers’ that may have belonged to dinosaurs.


About the presenter:

Ryan McKellar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Kansas, and a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Alberta. He was educated at the U of A, with degrees spanning a range of palaeontological topics including: vertebrate palaeontology, particularly theropod dinosaurs (B.Sc.); invertebrate palaeontology, specifically the Devonian phacopid trilobites of Morocco (M.Sc.); and palaeoentomology (Ph.D.). His doctoral dissertation dealt with inclusions in Canadian amber. The main focus of this work was parasitic Hymenoptera (microscopic wasps) in amber, but work on the deposit permitted the study of a number of other insect groups, along with unique inclusions, such as feather fragments. In addition to studying amber inclusions, Dr. McKellar has been involved in the use of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and stable isotope analyses of amber, in an effort to characterize various amber deposits. Combined with amber inclusions, this line of research has provided a more comprehensive picture of source trees in amber-producing forests, as well as some of the ecological conditions at the time of amber production.

Dr. McKellar is currently involved in an effort to expand the number of inclusion-bearing amber deposits being studied within western Canada, as well as research on a broad range of arthropod groups. Ongoing amber research will provide a more comprehensive record of insect evolution, palaeo-forests, and terrestrial conditions throughout the Late Cretaceous and into the Paleocene. Alberta offers one of the most complete records throughout this time interval, as well as the opportunity to study amber in direct association with dinosaur remains

A Huffington Post article about some of Dr. McKellar’s research:



Anti- AntiVaccination: The battle continues

#dropjenny: Tell ABC that Jenny McCarthy’s pseudoscience is not welcome on The View (@theviewtv)

Update 1: Ottawa public health reports a case of measles in an unimmunized child – the first since January 2011:

“The risk to the public is very limited,” said Dr. Lindy Samson, Chief of Infectious Diseases at CHEO. “Immunization is the best protection from measles. Everyone should ensure that their vaccines are up to date.”

The reported incidence of measles in Ottawa is very low as most of the population has been vaccinated. Despite the rarity of this disease in Ottawa, it is very important for all residents to keep their vaccinations up to date.

Update 2: Toronto public health weighs in, and provides an enlightening infographic.

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published a fraudulent paper linking autism to the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. What followed was a growing movement of scared parents who began avoiding getting their kids vaccinated for fear that they would become autistic. For years scientists could not repeat the results found by Wakefield. Finally in 2004, Wakefield was found to have a conflict of interest in favour of finding a link between the vaccine and autism. In May of 2010, Andrew Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council and was struck of the medical register and banned from practicing medicine. The rumour campaign against vaccines was picked up by Jenny McCarthy, an actress with no scientific or medical background. She became the mouthpiece for the supposed controversy, despite the fact that there was no scientific basis for any of the claims she made. Despite this, her fame allowed her greater publicity. She used her son’s supposed autism to gain sympathy, and to tug at the heartstrings of worried parents everywhere.

Hordes of new parents opted against vaccines. Not just the MMR, but others as well. Parents began sending pox pops to one another, and holding chicken pox parties. Adults who had previously had their vaccines, opted against getting their regular boosters. Since that time, the western world has seen a re-emergence of various diseases that before this time had been on their way to extinction: whooping cough, measles, mumps, and many more.  When confronted about their choice, many will answer:

“It’s my kids/my health, I’m not hurting anyone else”

But, the truth they don’t want to face is that it’s not themselves, or at least not just themselves, they are hurting. They are also hurting people whose immune systems have been compromised. People who have autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s or colitis, like lupus, diseases like HIV and AIDs, people on chemo or who have had an organ transplant, the elderly, and children. These are the people who will not only get sick, but are those most likely to suffer serious consequences like disability, even death as a result. They are the people who rely on group immunity: who for one reason or another could not get the vaccine. People who, even if they were vaccinated, may not have enough of an immune response to fight off the illness.

In February of 2013, the Ottawa Cancer Foundation invited Jenny McCarthy to paticipate in their “Bust A Move” fundraising drive.  The Ottawa Skeptics launched their #dropjenny campaign on twitter and social media, and as a result, the OCF cancelled McCarthy’s appearance.

Now,  ABC TV is looking to have Jenny McCarthy replace one of the hosts of the VIEW, which would give Jenny  a new platform from which to spout her dangerous anti-science and anti-medicine ideas.  It’s time to restart the #DropJenny campaign on twitter and help encourage ABC to reconsider their decision to give her a spot on their popular daytime TV show.

Help defend science, medicine, and reason, and those who cannot defend themselves. Tell @ABC @theviewtv to #DropJenny!

You can also sign a petition started by Voices for Vaccines here.

(More on the Ottawa #dropjenny campaign at Scribbles and Rants.)

Whether speaking out against troublesome legislation or providing educational programs across the country, CFI’s valuable work needs your generous support. Please click here to donate or join as a friend of the Centre for Inquiry – Canada.


Our Events: Café Inquiry

CFI Vancouver is proud to host a monthly discussion group called Café Inquiry.


Café Inquiry meets every third Saturday of the month at 1pm for a short presentation by a guest speaker followed by group discussion.

Topics include, science, social justice, religion, pseudo science, and more. Occasionally Café Inquiry will function as a workshop for a particular skeptical skill set like how to do cold readings or how to preform skeptical activism.

Come along and enjoy afternoon tea and stimulating discussion with fellow freethinkers on a variety of topics.

Café Inquiry is free but donations are requested to keep the program running.