Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Free to Believe

Free to Believe: Rethinking Freedom of Conscience and Religion in Canada

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 312
  • Book Info
    Free to Believe
    Book Description:

    Free to Believeinvestigates the protection for freedom of conscience and religion - the first of the "fundamental freedoms" listed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - and its interpretation in the courts.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6307-7
    Subjects: Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Chapter One Introduction: How Freedom of Conscience and Religion Are Protected and Why It Matters
    (pp. 3-21)

    As I am writing this, the newspapers are reporting the efforts of two plaintiffs in legal proceedings to overturn sections of the Criminal Code that make it illegal to assist in a suicide.¹ This matter has already been litigated in Canada. In 1993, in a decision cited asRodriguez v. Attorney-General (British Columbia),² the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hold that there was a legal right to assisted suicide. Nonetheless, the debate has gone on, and it is one on which Canadians, on both sides, have passionate views. And once again, our top Canadian court will likely have an...

  5. Chapter Two Early Cases: Getting Off on the Wrong Foot
    (pp. 22-53)

    In this chapter, we will consider the reasoning in and the implications of the first case to consider the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion.¹ As we will see, the case had particular implications for the issue of expression of belief in the public forum. Because the cases in this chapter are all Charter cases, we will be talking about issues of government facilitation or support of such expression, not purely private exchanges. But I will suggest that as the line of cases progresses, the courts’ approach becomes a root from which problematic implications for the private sphere...

  6. Chapter Three Culture Wars: Majority versus Minority Values
    (pp. 54-94)

    On January 29, 2007, an article in theGlobe and Mailpushed a small Quebec town into the national spotlight. The headline read: “Rural Quebec town bans stoning women.”¹ Hérouxville Town Council had adopted a set of norms to be given to potential immigrants. The norms were to “ensure that people who come here want to live like us,” a spokesperson told Montreal’sLa Pressenewspaper.² The council seemed to believe it was responding to what a later report would call an “accommodation crisis.” ³ Immigrants to the province were seen as receiving unfair concessions that allowed them to set...

  7. Chapter Four When Religion and Politics Intertwine
    (pp. 95-127)

    Certain ideas about equality are popular with Canadians. We have seen this illustrated, in the last chapter, in the Bouchard/Taylor report,¹ which found that the gravest concern with accommodation for religious belief was with its impact on gender equality. A survey of Canadians published byMaclean’smagazine in 2009² found very much the same things. Yet while many average Canadians view religious accommodation as a threat to equality and evidence of preferential treatment of minority groups, such accommodation is justified by the courts, tribunals, and theorists as an application of equality rights.³

    I have suggested that this difference between the...

  8. Chapter Five Human Rights: A Zero Sum Game?
    (pp. 128-164)

    Up to this point, we have discussed primarily freedom of conscience and religion as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.¹ Most of the cases we have reviewed have been assertions of citizens’ rights against the reach of the state, although we have looked at parallels with rights of individuals against each other and, in a couple of cases, have made a brief sortie into that field.²

    In this chapter we will turn to a direct consideration of provincial and Federal human rights legislation that governs the interaction of private citizens. In chapter 1, I briefly outlined the structure...

  9. Chapter Six Conflicting Rights: A Balancing Act?
    (pp. 165-194)

    In the last chapter, I suggested a way of conceptualizing human rights that avoided viewing them as unlimited entitlements curtailed only when they come into conflict with the equally unlimited rights of others. In this chapter, we will further continue this analysis as we examine cases in which courts have found that rights of one person are in direct conflict with those of another. As we have seen, courts have consistently stated that there is no “hierarchy” of human rights.¹ Rather, they have suggested that in cases of conflicting rights, a balancing process must be undertaken. This judicial commitment to...

  10. Chapter Seven Freedom of Conscience: The Forgotten Human Right
    (pp. 195-228)

    Those of us “of a certain age” may remember iconic cartoons in which the main character made his decisions to act after listening to miniature versions of himself hovering in mid-air above his shoulders. One, typically dressed in white with a halo, opposed one dressed in a red devil’s suit with horns. Naturally, the little guy in horns often won. But we had no doubt that this represented the struggles of our hero with his conscience. “Conscience,” represented by the little white-clad figure with the halo, presented the “right,” the “moral” choice.

    Throughout this book, we have often coupled “freedom...

  11. Chapter Eight Can We Change? (And Why We Should)
    (pp. 229-242)

    We only need to pick up a paper today and we will see some issue of religion or conscience in public debate. Belief systems underlie every choice we make, both publicly and privately. Political theorists, in the past, have seemed to speak as if human beings could grow a common skin over the bones of their diverse beliefs. As the world has become smaller through communication and immigration, this becomes harder to believe. We are confronted with difference, not as a remote and interesting phenomenon, but as a part of our daily lives. The differences in our beliefs lead to...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 243-278)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-284)
  14. General Index
    (pp. 285-296)
  15. Index to Cases Discussed
    (pp. 297-298)