mercredi 5 décembre 2012

The Supreme Court decision in the Drummondville case raises a host of questions

From McGill professor Farrow's website :

The Supreme Court decision in the Drummondville case, which (unlike the Loyola case) concerned the right of parents to exempt their children altogether from State-mandated lessons in religion and ethics, was released on 17 February 2012. The Court concluded that the appellants had not proven that their religious liberty was violated by the Ministry’s refusal to exempt their children from the ERC program: "Parents are free to pass their personal beliefs on to their children if they so wish. However, the early exposure of children to realities that differ from those in their immediate family environment is a fact of life in society. The suggestion that exposing children to a variety of religious facts in itself infringes their religious freedom or that of their parents amounts to a rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society and ignores the Quebec government’s obligations with regard to public education. Although such exposure can be a source of friction, it does not in itself constitute an infringement of s. 2(a) of the Canadian Charter and of s. 3 of the Quebec Charter." – Deschamps, J., S.L. v. Commission scolaire des Chênes, 2012 SCC 7, par. 40

This raises a host of questions:  Was such a suggestion really being made, or were the parents merely asking that the State not interfere with their children's private religious instruction by forcing upon them what they regard as an incompatible form of instruction under the guise of religious literacy? Who should be the judge of compatibility? What is the current relation between the (declining) rights and duties of parents and the (advancing) rights and duties of the State with respect to religious literacy? What kind of literacy is the State aiming at, and under what circumstances might its aims be construed as a violation of parental rights or of religious liberty? Does "the early exposure of children to realities that differ from those in their immediate family environment," which is no doubt "a fact of life," constitute grounds for the State to enforce certain kinds of exposure? Which kinds? And is it really possible for the State to neither favour nor hinder any particular belief or belief-system (ibid., par. 32), or for its neutrality to mean that "the State cannot formally take any position on the true and the good"? What then of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms itself, or of the State's determination to define and defend "the multicultural reality"? Do these not entail such commitments?

Soutenons les familles dans leurs combats juridiques (reçu fiscal pour tout don supérieur à 50 $)

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