April 17, 2015
On April 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that the prayer traditionally recited before town council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The SCC came to a unanimous decision on the case, citing in its ruling that the practice infringes on the principle of religious neutrality of the state. Global News sought comment from Torys’ litigator Sarah Whitmore in their report of the decision. Below is an excerpt of the article:
“The state must instead remain neutral in this regard,” the judgment said. “This neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non-belief. It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief.”
Part of this neutrality is allowing non-believers, or people who don’t believe in the majority’s religion, from having to publicly declare their non-belief by stepping out of the room to avoid a prayer, Sarah Whitmore, a lawyer with Torys LLP in Toronto said.
“The two rights need to be balanced. So the right you might have to practice your religion and to pray, needs to be balanced against someone else’s right not to have to pray.”
To read the full article, click here.