Wednesday, 15 April 2015

HUGE WIN! Canada Supreme Court to Rules UNANIMOUSLY AGAINST Prayer in City Hall Meetings in Saguenay!

(Posted before the decision):

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to rule today on the prayer in city hall meetings case. This would be the case with quirky Saguenay mayor Jean Tremblay who keeps on trying to get everyone to say his prayer in official municipal meetings -- because: religious freedom.

I'm so sure that the court will rule against the co-mingling of state and church. Because they've been so reasonable in the past with issues like this -- oh, yes, yes I am!

Actually I'm nervous as hell about this because it will likely make a precedent. Unlike many others I've spoken to, I'm not very optimistic about this -- hopefully, I'll be proven wrong.

Tremblay says he'll have a press conference at 10:30 (24 minutes!).

More commentary on this as things unfold.

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:15AM EDT!!

A WIN for secularism in Quebec and by extension the rest of Canada!

La Cour suprême du Canada rend illégale la récitation de la prière à Saguenay

The Supreme Court of Canada makes Saguenay prayer recitation illegal
La Cour suprême du Canada vient de rendre une décision unanime dans laquelle elle donne raison au Mouvement laïque du Québec et au citoyen Alain Simoneau, qui s'opposaient à cette pratique en alléguant qu'elle allait à l'encontre du droit à la liberté de religion de ses concitoyens.

La Cour suprême condamne aussi Saguenay à verser 30 000 $ en dommages à Alain Simoneau, comme l'ordonnait le Tribunal des droits de la personne dans sa première décision.
The Supreme Court of Canada just rendered a unanimous decision in favour of the Secular Movement of Quebec and citizen Alain Simoneau, which opposes this practice and puts forward that this went against the religious rights of the citizens (of Saguenay).

The Supreme Court also orders Saguenay to pay $30,000 in damages to Alain Simoneau as was ordered by the Human Rights Tribunal in the first decision.
 Huge win! More as it develops! This could set the precedent for the rest of the country!

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:20AM EDT: Supreme Court ruling can be found here.
The Tribunal’s finding in this case that there had been discriminatory interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion for the purposes of ss. 3 and 10 of the Quebec Charter was reasonable. The recitation of the prayer at the council’s meetings was above all else a use by the council of public powers to manifest and profess one religion to the exclusion of all others. On the evidence in the record, it was reasonable for the Tribunal to conclude that the City’s prayer is in fact a practice of a religious nature. Its decision on this point was supported by reasons that were both extensive and intelligible, and the background facts, which were reviewed in detail, support its conclusion. Likewise, the Tribunal’s conclusions on the issues of qualifying the expert of S and the MLQ and of the probative value of his opinion were not unreasonable. A relationship between an expert and a party does not automatically disqualify the expert. Even though the Tribunal did not discuss the expert’s independence and impartiality in detail, it was very aware of his relationship with the MLQ and of his views with respect to secularism; it was only after discussing all the evidence, including the substance of the testimony of all the experts, that it decided to accept his testimony.

The prayer recited by the municipal council in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality resulted in a distinction, exclusion and preference based on religion — that is, based on S’s sincere atheism — which, in combination with the circumstances in which the prayer was recited, turned the meetings into a preferential space for people with theistic beliefs. The latter could participate in municipal democracy in an environment favourable to the expression of their beliefs. Although non‑believers could also participate, the price for doing so was isolation, exclusion and stigmatization. This impaired S’s right to exercise his freedom of conscience and religion. The attempt at accommodation provided for in the by‑law, namely giving those who preferred not to attend the recitation of the prayer the time they needed to re‑enter the council chamber, had the effect of exacerbating the discrimination. The Tribunal’s findings to the effect that the interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion was more than trivial or insubstantial were supported by solid evidence, and deference is owed to the Tribunal’s assessment of the effect of the prayer on S’s freedom of conscience and religion.

UPDATE 2015-04-14 10:20 EDT: Globe and Mail writes:
Wednesday’s ruling will have an impact in dozens of cities and towns across Canada that engage in the practice of reciting a prayer before the start of council meetings. 

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