SCC Case Information
S.L., et al. v. Commission scolaire des Chênes, et al.
(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)
(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party)
Canadian charter - civil.
Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.
(PUBLICATION BAN ON APPELLANTS)
Canadian Charter - Freedom of conscience and religion - Mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course exposing elementary and secondary school children to various beliefs - Catholic parents invoking their freedom of conscience and religion in support of request for exemption - Exemption refused in letter identical to ones received by parents in several other places around Quebec - Whether Court of Appeal erred in dismissing appeal on ground that s. 222 of Education Act, R.S.Q. c. I 13.1, does not provide basis for request for exemption from Ethics and Religious Culture program based on religious beliefs of parents - Whether Court of Appeal erred in dismissing appeal on basis that school board’s decisions did not infringe appellants’ freedom of conscience and religion under s. 2(a) of Canadian Charter and s. 3 of Quebec Charter for reasons set out in expert report of theologian and interpretation of position of Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec - Whether Court of Appeal erred in not reversing motion judge’s decision on basis of fact that infringement of appellants’ fundamental rights not justified under s. 1 of Canadian Charter and s. 9.1 of Quebec Charter - Whether Court of Appeal erred in not reversing motion judge’s decision on basis of fact that respondent school board’s decisions dictated by third party - Whether Court of Appeal erred in finding that child C. D.J. exempted from Ethics and Religious Culture program and in dismissing appeal on basis that it had become moot.
In May 2008, the Ethics and Religious Culture program became mandatory in Quebec. At that time, the appellants had one child in elementary school in grade 1, and another in Secondary IV; the oldest had already taken the course. They wrote to the two schools to request that their children be exempted. The reason given for their request was serious harm within the meaning of s. 222 of the Education Act, namely the disruption caused by forced, premature contact with a series of beliefs that were mostly incompatible with those of the family, as well as the adverse effect on the religious faith of the members of this family. The school board refused to grant the exemption, in the same terms as those used by other boards responding to similar requests. The Minister of Education had announced publicly that there would be no exemptions.