Friday, July 9, 2010

God and the Charter

So last week I suggested that the Queen (British Crown) be phased out of Canadian law. As unlikely as that may seem, given the constitutional changes required, here is another windmill I'm going to tilt at.
Yesterday the National Post highlighted a discussion that occurred because of an unusual interpretation of the Charter by a Superior Court judge in Quebec.  The judge defended a private (sort of - they are funded 60% by Quebec) Jesuit high school of its right to teach Roman Catholic ethics and religion rather than the mandated Quebec provincial curriculum. The judge used the Preamble to the Charter ("Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law") to make his case.
This presented an opportunity for CFI to get some publicity and its executive director Justin Trottier to point out that the Preamble is inappropriate for about 25% of Canadians who are agnostics or atheists. Bloody right! Furthermore the Preamble and section 2 of the Charter are a bit contradictory. Section 2 states that everyone has fundamental freedoms including "freedom of conscience and religion" which of course does not preclude atheists but I hope you see what I mean.
Again this is not a big deal and nothing will happen as a result, but the last phrase in the Preamble is what makes Canada what it is. The rules are important and need to be tested and sometimes tweaked, and this document (as imperfect as it might be), and others need to be part of the fabric of daily life. 

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