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There Is A Lawyer Who Skillfully Fights For the Rights of Christians in Canada

Jonathon Van Maren : Sep 13, 2017  LifeSiteNews.com

There is almost no issue important to Christians where he has not left his mark. Polizogopoulos has defended pro-life students arrested in Ottawa for attempting to set up an abortion victim photography display on their own campus, and represented pro-life blogger Pat Maloney in a case that resulted in an Ontario Superior Court judge striking down a section of Ontario law that banned the release of abortion statistics.

(Canada)— [LifeSiteNews.com] In 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario called Albertos Polizogopoulos "forceful and eloquent" in his defence of Trinity Western University's right to run a law school according to their Christian beliefs—a rare and singular shout-out to a lawyer from the bench. Earlier this year, the Catholic Register referred to him as the "bearded and energetic" defender of Christian physicians, as he argued on behalf of the Christian Medical and Dental Society in Canada and asserted their right to freedom of conscience in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. And Don Hutchinson, a lawyer and author of Religious Freedom and the Church in Canada at 150 (1867-2017) called Polizogopoulos "simply one of the country's best courtroom litigators." (Photo: Canadian lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos with Hamilton parent Steve Tourloukis/Lianne Laurence/LifeSiteNews.com)

One reason many Canadian Christians may not have heard of Polizogopoulos is that he is self-deprecating and tends to downplay his many achievements. But it is also due to the fact that Christians in Canada have not yet woken up to the reality that religious freedom, conscience rights, and parental rights in education have been under fierce attack for the better part of the last decade. While many Christian communities slumber on, those rights have been defended through the tireless work of overworked lawyers like Polizogopoulos, who do not receive the recognition they deserve from the Christian communities they serve. Because so few lawyers have the skill set necessary to take on these cases, Polizogopoulos does nearly all of these cases pro-bono or at a reduced fee, at significant personal financial cost.

Polizogopoulos did not enter law school at the University of Ottawa with plans to become, as one newspaper called him, a specialist "in religious freedom litigation." But in his first year of law school, he met the woman who would become his wife—Faye Sonier, who now serves as executive director and legal counsel for the Canadian Physicians for Life. She was a Christian, and he was not. In order to understand her, he had to understand her faith, and so he set to work exploring Christianity. "That first year was tough," he told Faith Today in 2013. "While everyone else was reading about the law, I was reading the Bible and studying things like predestination and free will and trying to understand those issues."

Polizogopoulos' investigation into Christianity did not culminate in quite the manner that he anticipated: He ended up believing that it was true, and it changed his life. That, in turn, became the catalyst for his entry into the legal fray on behalf of Canada's Christians. It didn't take long, either. Polizogopoulos was called to the bar in June 2008, and he was at the Supreme Court representing the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Christian Legal Fellowship only four months later, arguing that freedom of religion extended not only to individuals but to religious groups and communities. The Supreme Court accepted these arguments in their 2009 Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony ruling, setting an essential precedent for future religious liberty cases.

Don Hutchinson, who was then heading up the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's Centre for Faith and Public Life, remembers clearly how it all began. "I first met Albertos about a decade ago," he recalled. "His biggest fan is his wife, Faye, a lawyer who I had hired as my associate at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The EFC and the Christian Legal Fellowship were hosting about two dozen lawyers to have a conversation about a vital religious freedom case for religious institutions in Canada. I decided to add some young talent to the usual cast of suspects. One of the requirements for participation was the advance submission of thoughts on the case. Faye encouraged me to give Albertos a chance to submit a paper"...

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