On April 15, in a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed it unconstitutional for municipal councils to begin their meetings with a denominational prayer.
The case originated when Alain Simoneau and the Mouvement laëque québécois (Quebec Secular Movement) challenged the city of Saguenay opening its meetings with a Catholic prayer. The case wound through the province’s human rights commission and courts before the Supreme Court heard the case last year. In its decision last month, the justices said, “the state must not interfere in religion and beliefs” and thus “must … remain neutral.” The justices added, “this neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non-belief. It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief.”