MONTREAL, QC February 8, 2013 (CCRL) – Loyola High School of Montreal has announced that it will apply to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal that required it to offer the province’s Ethics and Religious Culture course without modification to meet the school’s goals as a Catholic institution. Because this case raises questions that are pivotal to Catholic education as well as to religious freedom, the League plans to apply to intervene if the appeal is allowed.
The school had asked to cover the course material in a world religions’ course based on its Catholic perspective, which it had already been offering for a number of years, a request which was upheld by the Quebec Superior Court but appealed by the province.
The Court of Appeal decision, issued December 4, declared that because Loyola’s course is Catholic in orientation, it could not be considered equivalent to the ERC program, because the ERC course was specifically designed to be religiously “neutral”. This decision has serious implications for parental rights in directing the religious education of their children.
In 2008, the Education Minister at the time, Michelle Courchesne, refused to declare that the course in Morals and World Religions Loyola High School in Montreal was equivalent to ERC, arguing that the program offered by the school was given from a Catholic viewpoint whereas the ethics and religious culture approach must be “secular”. The school took the case to Quebec’s Superior Court. In June 2010, the Superior Court reversed the decision of the minister and the school was allowed to teach its substitute program as equivalent. The Court of Appeal has overturned that decision and upheld the original decision of the Minister of Education.