Church of Scientology
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On May 15, Le Devoir reported that the Church of Scientology was preparing for a major offensive in Canada. This pseudo-church seems obsessed with the idea of establishing itself in Canada in order to recruit new members. According to the president of Canada’s Church of Scientology, Yvette Shank, they hope to open another seven churches by the end of 2011 in Canada’s major cities, much like the one opened in downtown Quebec City in January 2010. They are looking to build in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Kitchener.
We know that the founder of the Church of Scientology was convicted of fraud by a French court in 1977; that in 1992, Toronto’s Church of Scientology was condemned by the Ontario Court of Justice for ordering some of its members to spy on government authorities, including Ontario’s police service and the Office of the Attorney General; and that in 2009, the two main branches of France’s Church of Scientology and seven of its leaders were prosecuted for organized fraud and illegally operating as a pharmacy, eventually paying hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines. How does your government intend to limit the growth of this movement and take appropriate measures to ensure that it does not receive any public funding or claim a federal property tax exemption and also ensure that it is never recognized as a charitable organization for tax credits under the Income Tax Act?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am puzzled that the honourable senator would address the activities of the Church of Scientology. These activities have nothing to do with government policy, although I recognize that at the end of the honourable senator’s question, she talked about tax charitable status and things of that nature.
I will not comment on a newspaper report of any organization that may be coming to Canada, but I will take as notice the portion of the honourable senator’s question with regard to charitable status.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: To help the honourable senator with her inquiry, I point out that the Church of Scientology is no stranger to criminal accusation or prosecution. Its message of deceit has spread, through brainwashing vulnerable people in the United States, France, Spain, Ireland, Canada and dozens of other countries, and the organization is banned in some countries such as Germany. The global spread of the Church of Scientology coincides with a number of events orchestrated by the organization that are of questionable legality and morality. The Church of Scientology’s rap sheet contains charges and accusations of fraud, extortion, capital flight, coercion, the illegal practice of medicine, taking advantage of mentally ill persons and murder.
When will this government get tough on crime and ban organizations like the Church of Scientology and other sects that prey on the weak and put all Canadians at risk through the use of theft, violence and manipulation?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this matter is not something that directly involves the government, other than the honourable senator’s question about charitable status. A newspaper report based on stories about the Church of Scientology is interesting to some, I am sure. There have been all kinds of accusations, which have nothing to do with the government, and it is therefore not appropriate for me to respond any further.