Canada’s top court to hear Quebec mayor prayer case

A Catholic worshipper prays. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

MONTREAL – The case over whether prayers can be said at council meetings in Quebec will be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada.

The country’s top court has ruled that it will hear the case between Saguenay mayor Jean Tremblay and the Quebec Secular Movement, who are battling over the issue of whether Christian prayers can be said before council meetings.

Quebec’s human rights commission said welcomed the decision on Thursday.

“This is an opportunity to resolve a question relating to what makes up the true secular character of the state,” said the president of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, Jacques Frémont in a statement.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes the same week that hearings studying Quebec’s controversial charter of values on secularism began in the province.

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In May last year, Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled that prayers said before council meetings in the town of Saguenay do not infringe on a person’s freedom of religion.

READ MOREQuebec court rules that it’s okay to pray

The Quebec Secular Movement and Saguenay resident Alain Simoneau filed a complaint in 2007 because they objected to the fact that religious prayers were said before every Saguenay council meeting by the Catholic mayor.

The appeal court ruling overturned an earlier 2011 ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal in Quebec, which ordered the Saguenay mayor to remove religious symbols from the city hall and to stop praying before council meetings. Simoneau was awarded ​$30,000 in damages.


Tremblay refused to comply and appealed the decision.

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