“Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”
That’s part of the preamble to the Canadian Constitution. However, it is a fairly recent concept as the Constitution Act dates back only to 1982, and the mention of God was actually a last minute addition by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Now however, when cabinet members are sworn in, many choose not to add the words “so help me God” as they take the oath of office.
Religion once played a far more important role in the public sphere, especially in the strongly Catholic province of Quebec.
All this has changed, starting slowly after the Second World War, and dramatically in Quebec in the 1960’s. That province has now become the least “churched” society in Canada.
A new poll shows how dramatic the decline of religion has been.
A 1986 poll showed 43 per cent of Canadians were regular church goers, and the recent poll shows that has dropped to 23 per cent.
While the influence of religion in public policy has declined dramatically, religion itself has become the issue for policy discussion.
The wearing of the Muslim face covering has become controversial with Quebec even passing a law banning it, although this is currently been suspended by a Quebec judge while the law is challenged.
Another question touched on another thorny issue of accommodating beliefs and practices of various religions now present in greater numbers in Canada. Some 53 per cent said Canada is too accommodating, 39 per cent said the balance is about right, while 9 per cent felt there should be more accommodation.
But Islam is not the only religion scrutinized, The issue of religious freedom is now before the courts involving Christian organizations attempting to assert their rights
In British Columbia for example, in where Trinity Western University’s policies seek to impose moral standards on their students,
In Ontario, religious beliefs over abortion are involved in a fight between the provincial health care system and the Ontario College of Physicians over exempting health care workers from activities related to abortion or assisted dying, while in Quebec, Loyola College’s demand to be able to set its own religious instruction curriculum independent of the one established by provincial education authorities is also being challenged.
As to the question of religious freedom, 55 per cent said Canada is better because of it, 14 per cent said Canada is worse off because of it.
Religious groups enjoy varying degrees of tax exemption and that might change as only 55 per cent supported tax exemption for religious organizations.
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