CCF granted intervener status in Quebec school prayer ban challenge

CCF granted intervener status in Quebec school prayer ban challenge

MONTREAL – The Canadian Constitution Foundation (the “CCF”) is pleased to announce that it has been granted intervener status in a constitutional challenge to a directive from Quebec’s minister of education that bans conspicuous prayer on school properties.

The CCF will assist the court in the interpretation of the right to freedom of religion under section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it hears arguments from A.B., the parent of an affected child, and various civil liberties groups, in an upcoming judicial review of the April 19, 2023 Order in Council.

The CCF will argue that the new policy amounts to a total ban on prayer for some students including Muslim students whose faith requires them to pray conspicuously during school hours. The CCF will also explain how the deleterious effects of the directive on the religious rights of children outweigh any benefits in the form of increased respect for state secularism, which is the minister’s stated goal.

“The CCF understands the importance of secularism, but this prayer-ban is an obvious attack on minority students who are doing nothing more than kneeling to pray in empty classrooms without any institutional support, condonation or special treatment,” said CCF litigation director Christine Van Geyn.

“This ban means that students who want to adhere to their religious beliefs will be forced to trudge through the ice and snow to find a warm place to pray in between classes this winter or may even be forced to leave the public school system altogether,” she added.

“There is ample precedent that these kinds of bans on prayer are unconstitutional.”

The CCF is represented in the intervention by Chantal Bellavance of Boro Frigon Gordon Jones.