Liberals, Tories defeat Bloc motion to replace the daily House of Commons prayer

The West Block of Parliament Hill is pictured through the window of the Sir John A Macdonald building in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian members of Parliament will keep starting their days with a prayer after Liberals and Conservatives defeated a Bloc motion to replace the prayer with a more secular moment of reflection.

The Bloc Quebecois and most NDP MPs voted on Wednesday in support of the motion to replace the daily opening prayer in the House of Commons, with the exception of NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Daniel Blaikie.

Conservatives opposed the motion to replace the prayer, along with almost all of the Liberals including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is a practicing Catholic.

The only Liberal to support the motion was Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

In the motion, Bloc MP Martin Champoux had suggested replacing the prayer with a moment of reflection would show respect for “the beliefs and non-beliefs of all parliamentarians and of the general public.”

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He added it would affirm that the House of Commons “is committed to the principle of the separation of religion and the state, the diversity of views and freedom of conscience while upholding the secularism and religious neutrality of the state,” and make the chamber more inclusive.

Trudeau told journalists on Tuesday he believes Canadians have other priorities.

Since 1877, the daily prayer has been read out each day before the House of Commons officially opens its doors to visitors in the galleries overlooking the chamber, and in recent decades to recordings.

It states the following:

Almighty God, we give thanks for the great blessings which have been bestowed on Canada and its citizens, including the gifts of freedom, opportunity and peace that we enjoy. We pray for our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, and the Governor General. Guide us in our deliberations as Members of Parliament, and strengthen us in our awareness of our duties and responsibilities as Members. Grant us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to preserve the blessings of this country for the benefit of all and to make good laws and wise decisions. Amen.

Champoux said the country has changed since the prayer first started to be read, and the House of Commons should adapt to reflect a country that is more diverse and less religious than it was in 1877.


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