Supreme Court ruling leaves Kelowna council without a prayer

The mayor and councillors will now reaffirm their oath of office instead of saying a prayer prior to Tuesday night meetings.

Kelowna’s new city council has only been on the job four months but it’s offcial – it doesn’t have a prayer.

In response to the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that a town in Quebec cannot open its public meetings with a prayer, Kelowna council dropped the payer it has been delivering prior to its Tuesday night council meetings Monday, replacing it with individual council members reaffirming their oath of office.

“Doing nothing was not an option,” said Basran, adding council wanted to be respectful of the Supreme Court ruling while at the same time recognizing the seriousness and the impact its decisions make on the community.

“We felt we would like to have something,” he added, describing the reaffirmation of the oath of office as “a pause and a moment of reflection.”

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled the Quebec town of Saguenay could no longer open its meetings with a prayer. The ruling ended an eight-year battle by the town’s mayor to maintain the prayer, a fight that saw the Quebec’s human rights tribunal order an end to the prayer and a lower court in that province agree only for that ruling to be overturned by Quebec’s Court of Appeal.

The country’s highest court said Canadian society has evolved and given rise to a “concept of neutrality according to which the state must not interfere in religion and beliefs.”

“The state must, instead, remain neutral in this regard,” it ruled.

In Kelowna, the prayer recited prior to Tuesday night council meetings—but not delivered prior to Monday afternoon meetings—was non-denominational but generally Christian in nature. It routinely asked God to help council make proper decisions.

Basran, who is of East Indian decent and Coun. Mohini Singh, who is a Sikh, have both delivered the prayer in the past.

Basran said during his three years as a councillor and his four months as mayor, he has only had a few people question him about council praying prior to its Tuesday night meetings.

But he said he expects to hear much more from the public—on both sides—as a result of council’s move to drop the long-standing tradition of offering a prayer in council chambers.

In responding to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, Kelowna council directed city staff to bring forward an amendment to the city’s procedures bylaw to include the Oath of Office, which Basran said speaks more directly to the roles and responsibilities of council members to be accountable to citizens, act with integrity and act faithfully in the best interests of the community.

He said starting with  Tuesday night’s  council meeting, council members will take turns reaffirming the oath of office.

He said pausing for a moment of silence—as is being done by Ottawa city council now—was considered but rejected.

The oath of office Kelowna councillors and the mayor will reaffirm says, in part, they will:

• Perform the duties of mayor or councillor faithfully and with integrity,

• Abide by the statutes, bylaws and policies that govern the city and promote openness, accountability and responsible leadership,

• Provide stewardship of the public assets through the development and evaluation of the city’s policies and programs,

• Always consider the well-being and interests of the community as a whole, leading the development of a safe, vibrant and sustainable city.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Truck smashes into multiple parked vehicles in Kelowna

The driver of a truck was taken to hospital with undetermined injuries

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Stuart Park outdoor rink to reopen for winter

The outdoor ice rink is scheduled to be open Dec. 1

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding association sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Creekside Theatre hosts Canadian comedian, Phil Callaway

The Lake Country based theatre will host the fundraiser Nov. 20

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Livestock truck filled with pigs crashes into ditch off Highway 1

Two tow trucks, RCMP officers and traffic control personnel helped with the recovery near Salmon Arm

Truck smashes into multiple parked vehicles in Kelowna

The driver of a truck was taken to hospital with undetermined injuries

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

Lower Mainland couple missing in Thompson-Okanagan area

Barriere RCMP received a missing persons report for two senior overdue travellers

Most Read