Supreme Court of Canada upholds Catholic high school’s right to teach ethics in line with its Catholic beliefs
What’s at Stake:
The freedom of faith-based schools to operate in accordance with the faith that they profess
The Government of Quebec introduced a mandatory “Ethics and Religious Culture” (ERC) class for all public and private schools in the Canadian province in July 2008. The course presents all religions as equally valid, and the government proscribed teachers – even at private, religious schools – from expressing a preference for any particular faith.
Loyola High School, a private Catholic school, requested an accommodation from the Minister of Education so that the school could continue teaching Catholic ethics from a Catholic perspective. The Minister refused the request.
In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada granted permission to a group of other Christian denominations to intervene in the case. An ADF International allied lawyer representing the group then filed a brief with the court in defence of the school’s freedom of conscience and religion.
In March 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the government must grant an exemption to Loyola so that the school can offer an equivalent course to the ERC programme.
“This decision means that faith-based schools are free to operate according to the faith they teach and espouse,” said Gerald Chipeur QC, an allied ADF International lawyer of the Canadian firm Miller Thompson LLP.
Our Role in the Case
ADF International funded allied lawyer Gerald Chipeur QC in order to intervene in the case on behalf of a group of Canadian Christian denominations.