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Kempling appeal dismissed.

Vancouver--On June 13, 2005, Quesnel, B.C. teacher and counselor Chris Kempling lost another round in his fight for freedom of speech and expression when the Court of Appeal upheld the B.C. College of Teachers' action to suspend him for writing letters to the editor.

In July 2000, a complaint was filed with the B.C. College of Teachers regarding letters he had written to his local newspaper which were critical of the homosexual lifestyle. The College thereupon suspended his teaching licence for one month. (He has since received a further three-month suspension for opposing "gay marriage" as a spokesman for his political party.)

In its May 2002 decision the College contended that Mr. Kempling was guilty of unprofessional conduct. It argued that his letters were "discriminatory" and, as he had identified himself as a teacher, could possibly harm the integrity of the public school system. This, despite the fact that no evidence of harm or discrimination was cited.

Mr. Kempling's point was that the discipline imposed on him by the College violated the freedom of religion and expression clauses of the Charter of Rights. His counsel noted that "all other freedoms are an extension of the freedom of expression" and "even if speech is unpopular, it is worthy of protection in a free and democratic society." Mr. Kempling himself has stated that he wrote the letters as a private citizen and considers "the editorial pages ... to be a place where all Canadians have the right to express their points of view, whether people like them or not."

The B.C. Supreme Court supported the B.C. Teachers in a February, 2004 ruling. In April 2005 Chris Kempling's latest appeal came before the B.C. Court of Appeal and its decision of June 13 rejected the appeal.

Mr. Kempling is being represented by a legal team from the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA). Alliance co-council Kevin Boonstra said after the decision that "the result will be a chill on free debate and expression." This chilling effect was also noted by Joanne McGarry of the Catholic Civil Rights League, also a CRFA member. Ms. McGarry warned of the consequences at many levels of society, in particular "the impact on the right of clergy to preach against behaviour which their religious traditions hold as evil, immoral, or sinful."

The case may still be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. (Files from B.C. Catholic, Catholic Register; Interim.)
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Title Annotation:B.C. teacher Chris Kempling
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CBRI
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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