RADIA: Cutting chaplains will save taxpayers money

FACE TO FACE: Should the feds only employ prison chaplains who are Christian?

As the lefties often like to tell us, 60% of Canadians didn’t vote for the Conservative party in the last federal election.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, those 60% often like to blow every little thing the Harper government does way out of proportion.

Case in point: the government’s decision to axe the contracts of all part-time prison chaplains in federal institutions.

The Tories have announced that as of March 2013, they will cancel the contracts of 31 part-time Christian chaplains and 18 non-Christian chaplains as part of an overhaul of the prison faith counselling model.

The new model — which is also used in Canada’s armed forces — will include 80 paid full-time chaplains and a network of approximately 2,500 volunteer chaplains who provide religious services to the correctional system. While all but one of the paid chaplains will be Christian faith, they’ll be expected to provide multi-faith counsel and advice to all inmates.

This is prudent move that will save taxpayers’ $1.3 million a year while at the same time continuing to serve the spiritual needs of convicted felons.

But somehow, according to the 60%, the Harper government is “promoting Christianity over other religions.” All of the sudden, the 60% have become concerned about the religious rights and freedoms of our nation’s murderers, rapists, pedophiles, armed robbers and hooligans.

Let’s be clear: The remaining chaplains are professionals who are more than capable of providing spiritual advice to the 15,000 individuals currently in federal custody. Those inmates not comfortable with the paid chaplains have the option of seeking the counsel of one of over 2,500 volunteer chaplains of different faiths.

So, what is the issue here?

Canadians are part of more than 40 religions across this nation: from Anglicans to Doukhobors to Zoroastrians.

Do Canadians really want to fund prison chaplains for every single faith?

That’s certainly not something I want my tax dollars going towards.

Let’s not make this mole hill into a mountain. It’s not about religious freedom or the separation of church and state, and it’s certainly not about forcing all prisoners into Christianity.

It’s simply a prudent, fair and cost-saving measure by a fiscally conservative Conservative government.

Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.


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