MONTREAL, QC, October 21, 2010 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to learn that the Supreme Court of Canada has allowed the appeal of families from Drummondville, Quebec seeking an exemption from the province’s ethics and religious culture (ECR) course.
“This case is about the principle of parental authority in the religious education of their children,” said League President Phil Horgan. “The appeal is a significant opportunity to affirm these rights in the public forum, and encourage parental rights in the implementation of moral and religious instruction in Quebec’s public schools.”
The League supports Quebec’s Catholic parents, and those of other faiths, in their insistence that parents are the first educators of their children, and have the right to choose their religious education. The League is among the educational and religious organizations that supported the application for appeal, in recognition of the rights of parents to direct their children’s religious education.
The League hopes to participate in an intervention in the appeal with the support of its members.
The Quebec Court of Appeal refused Feb. 24 to hear an appeal of the lower court’s decision, claiming that the family’s request was no longer meaningful since it had no children in the system. Since then, the court ruled on an application from Loyola High School, a private school that had applied to cover the ECR content from a Catholic perspective. The decision – currently under appeal by the province – exempted the school from the ECR course.
“It is quite simply unacceptable that most families are denied a right, allowed in theory by the Law on Public Education (LIP), but denied to them in practice,” said Jean-Morse-Chevrier, League director and President of the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec (APCQ). “According to the APCQ, the ministry has to amend the instructions it sends to school boards so that public schools grant the same right of exemption from the ERC course as the court has just recognized for private schools.”
The new course was introduced in September, 2009 to replace older courses in Catholic or Protestant religion, or non-religious ethics courses. More than 70 per cent of families had been choosing courses with religious content. Criticism of the new course includes lack of doctrinal content, an emphasis on moral relativism and an over-broad definition of religion, as well as the course’s compulsory nature. Most school boards refused requests for exemption, leading the Drummondville parents to start the court case. Their application for the right to an exemption was refused by the court in September, 2009.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
Further information: Mrs. Jean Morse-Chevrier, CCRL director, Quebec region, and president, Association des parents catholiques du Québec (APCQ), firstname.lastname@example.org or (514) 276-8068, (819) 661-7140.
CCRL national office: Joanne McGarry, executive director, email@example.com, or 416-466-8244.
Top court to study up on Quebec schools’ religion course, Montreal Gazette, Oct. 22, 2010.