Today, [Aug 20] in the Supreme Court of Canada, Dr. Jerilyn Prior, with Thomas R. Berger as counsel, is filing papers asking the Court to reconsider her application lor leave to appeal. Prior and supporters consider this to be a test case of freedom of conscience and religion under s.2 (a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In 1982 and subsequent years,Jerilyn Prior and approximately 500 other Canadians have redirected the military portion of their Federal taxes owing (8 to 12 percent each year) to the Peace Trust Fund (under Conscience Canada, Victoria B.C.)
Dr Prior's counsel, Thomas Berger, justifies applying to the Supreme Court to reconsider the refusal on the basis that the historical context was not considered by the Federal Court of Appeal. Berger said:
"We are simply asking the courts to apply the principle of conscientious objection to payment of taxes for military purposes. The Supreme Court has recently emphasized, in Dumont v. A.G. Canada, the importance of allowing constitutional cases to go to trial, and in Sioux V. The Queen, the importance of the historical background. The fact is that Canada has recognized conscientious objection to military service since 1793, and as far back as 1842 it allowed Ouakers to direct their military taxes to peaceful purposes."
Conscience Canada, Vancouver, B.C.
The relations between native peoples and Canadian state are deeply disturbing. Changes in this area are needed without delay. The present federal government has three years left in its electoral man-date. Three issues must be addressed during this period: (1)appointment of a native person as head of the Department of Indian affairs, (2) a reassessment of the federal government's land claims policy, and (3) serious consideration of innovative options to address the needs of Canada's First Nations regarding self-government and some form of sovereignty (Canada is a multicultural country, not a bicultural one).
If the Prime Minister lacks the creativity and flexibility to deal with these and other related matters, it would be advisable for his government to resign. Now would be an excellent time for a federal election.
Robert Duncan, Waterloo