Loyola Supreme Court Decision: Religious Freedom upheld



March 19, 2015

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Loyola High School v. Quebec (Attorney General), upholding religious freedom for the Loyola community to teach the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective. 

At stake in this case was the religious freedom of parents and institutions to raise children according to a worldview that might be different than that of the State education bureaucracy. Thankfully, the Court was unanimous in finding that religious communities can teach their own faith to their children from their own perspective.

The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada led a coalition of 313 independent Christian schools and 11 post-secondary institutions to intervene in the case. The coalition was called the Association of Christian Educators and Schools and argued that confessional schools must be accommodated as an alternative to State-run schools.

André Schutten, Legal Counsel for ARPA Canada, was in the counsel lock-down this morning and made the following comments: 

  • “Our hope was that the Supreme Court would affirm hundreds of years of legal precedent that parents are the first decision-makers for their children, and that religious freedom includes the right to train children within a particular worldview. This morning, the Supreme Court has delivered.”
  • “With this decision, the Court stood up for liberty and for parental rights. While the Court could have been stronger in some places, this is still a welcome decision.”

Mr. Schutten also spoke to the effect the Court’s decision should have on other provinces:

  • “In light of this decision, ARPA Canada will be encouraging our elected leaders in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta to rethink their one-size-fits-all approach to religion, ethics and secularism. Over the past two years, these provinces have imposed a particular religious – that is, secular – worldview on all schools through Bill 13 (Ontario, 2013), Bill 18 (Manitoba, 2014) and Bill 10 (Alberta, 2015), while ignoring or suppressing the freedom of religious institutions or families.”
  • “Parents ought to have the first and final say on the religious and moral instruction of their children. While the State may assist parents in educating children, they may not override parental decisions relating to ethical and religious instruction. There has been a trend towards Statism in education in Canada. This decision gives hope to parents in stopping that slide.”

For a background on the Loyola case, click here. To read the ACES factum, click here

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Interview Requests: André Schutten, legal counsel, is available for comment this morning at the Supreme Court of Canada and is available throughout the day for in-studio or telephone interviews in Ottawa. To arrange an interview contact Niki Pennings, Administrative Assistant, at 1-905-577-5875 or [email protected]

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