A Democratic Imperative
State neutrality is vital to maintaining Canada’s diverse, multicultural heritage.
“A neutral public space free from coercion, pressure, and judgement … is intended to protect every person’s freedom and dignity. … The state’s duty to protect every person’s freedom of conscience and religion means that it may not use its powers in such a way as to promote the participation of certain believers or non-believers in public life to the detriment of others.”
– Chief Justice Gascon of the Supreme Court of Canada
Making charitable status or regulatory approval contingent on agreement with a secular worldview (as in the CSJ controversy, or in the Trinity Western University case) has dangerous implications for the future.
If the government can refuse public benefits to religious groups, such logic allows for discrimination against religious individuals, and ultimately against any who hold dissenting opinions.
“From the Charter ’s explicit protections of religious freedom, association, expression and equality, to the Constitution’s affirmation of minority religious education rights, to the Charter ’s pursuit of a multicultural society, to the preamble’s reference to the supremacy of God – when Canada’s most fundamental legal documents are read as a unified whole, their recognition of the importance of faith to Canadian society is undeniable. Religion is not just a social good but a constitutional good”
– Ross and Sinke