April 23, 2018
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada’s
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
RE: PETITION NO .: 421-02118 – Mr. Tabbara, March 1, 2018 (petition E-1264)
Dear Minister Wilson-Raybould:
I have read your response to petition E-1264 and I am concerned about the reasoning behind the decision not to ask Parliamentary Committees to review the systemic discrimination to which the petition refers.
You quite rightly point out that the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right to freedom from religion in Canada and your governments’ commitment to supporting that Charter.
How do the laws references as examples in the petition conform to that right to freedom from religion?
I agree that the analysis of discrimination by Canada’s courts must include considerations in a broader context than simply deciding whether an individual is treated as a lesser being. I would submit that the broader context includes whether practices in public spaces respect the rights and philosophies of individuals and groups of individuals. In deciding that opening prayers at municipal council meetings committed such discrimination, the Supreme Court of Canada established this clearly in Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City).Case #35496.
If it is unconstitutional to open municipal council meetings with a prayer, how is it constitutional to open school days in public schools with the religious lyrics to O Canada? Such practices deny our children their right to freedom from religion.
Indeed, the Charter does ensure that the state and its institutions maintain “a religiously neutral public space.” However, the point of petition E-1264 is that some laws of Canada do not maintain a religiously neutral public space or public forum.
I further submit that celebrating and preserving religious heritage also preserves some of the discriminatory practices against non-religious Canadians that exist in Canadian law. That is, it results in systemic discrimination as identified by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Given the contradiction between upholding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with its protections of the right to have no religious beliefs and ignoring the systemic discrimination against atheists that is present in Canadian law, I urge you to reconsider your position and ask Parliamentary Committees to investigate these concerns.
Doug Thomas, President
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