MPs are debating a motion in the House of Commons today for an immediate end to prayer lessons that begin each day.
Bloc Québécois MP Martin Champoux sponsored the binding motion in the House. A spokesman for the Government House leader’s office said a vote on the proposal would take place on Wednesday.
The resolution, if it is passed, would replace the prayer with a moment of reflection before the start of each day’s business. Other parties in the House have opposed the motion in the debate, saying there are more pressing issues before the MPs.
The resolution said that the prayer should be canceled because the House “respects the beliefs and non-beliefs of all MPs and the general public and is committed to the principle of separation of religion and state, diversity of thought and freedom”. of conscience while upholding the secularism and religious neutrality of the State and desiring inclusiveness.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons reads the prayer each morning before turning on the cameras in the room and letting members of the public and media inside.
The Parliament’s website states that the speaker, MPs and table officials must stand during the prayer, followed by a moment of silence.
Although usually a closed-door affair, the prayer was broadcast on October 23, 2014 – a day after the shootings inside the National War Memorial and the Center Block of Parliament.
“God Almighty, we thank Canada and its citizens for the great blessings they have given, including the gifts of freedom, opportunity and peace that we enjoy. We pray for our sovereign, Queen Elizabeth and the Governor General guide us in our deliberations as members of parliament, and strengthen us in our awareness of our duties and responsibilities as members. To preserve and do good to the blessings of this country for the benefit of all Grant us the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to make laws and wise decisions.
look | Speaker Andrew Scheer read out the prayer in the House:
Prayers have been a part of daily House proceedings since 1877 and were codified in standing orders in 1927.
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a municipal council in the Quebec City of Saguenay could not continue to open its meetings with prayer. The unanimous decision held that offering Catholic prayers at council meetings is a violation of freedom of conscience and religion.
Following the decision, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson replaced prayer with a moment of reflection at the start of city council meetings. Parliament is protected by parliamentary privilege and is able to set its own rules.
MPs have more pressing matters to think about: Hollande
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to like the idea as he went to a cabinet meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday morning.
“As I’ve spoken with Quebecers and people across the country, they’re focusing on mobility, they’re focusing on housing, they’re focusing on the war in Ukraine,” Trudeau said. “That’s what we’re going to focus on and that’s, frankly, most of the conversation in the House is all about.”
Government House leader Mark Holland said there is a debate about standing orders in the House of Commons every June and that it would have been a better time for the bloc to raise the issue.
“I think it is strange that the bloc chooses one of its three opposition days – they only have three years – to deal with it when we already have a day set aside to deal with the standing orders, ” They said.
Holland said the House should tackle more pressing issues, such as the pandemic, housing and the war in Ukraine.
look | Trudeau says Canadians have a bigger concern than stopping prayer in the House:
Daniel Blackie, the Democrat’s new lawmaker, told reporters that the Protest Day proposal, which provides just 24-hour notice, is not the best way to “promote right dialogue” about ending prayer, which he said does not work. The scope should be wide.
“I know the New Democrats have often felt, if we’re going to talk about changing the opening ceremony of Parliament, we should get the approval of the land as part of that opening ceremony,” he said.
Blackie said the proposal is a worthwhile endeavor, but there are other ways to have that discussion.
He said, “They have made a proposal, they have proposed it with very little notice and not much consultation beforehand, and I personally question whether this is the right way to go about it.” is.”
NDP caucus chair Jenny Kwan said her caucus would discuss the proposal and she did not want to adversely affect their decision by suggesting how they could vote.
Conservatives say prayer is not an urgent issue
Conservative MP Cathy Vagantal told the House earlier today that while she appreciates the opportunity to discuss important issues that spark disagreement among lawmakers, prayer is not one of them.
“For me and my constituents, it is objectionable that the Bloc does not enter the House until the national anthem is sung, as they openly indicate that they aim to secede from Canada,” she said. “And yet, I and all members respect the fact that it is their choice to have this place.”
Conservative MP Gerard Deltell, who represents Louis-Saint-Laurent in Quebec, told the House that the job of lawmakers is to address important issues facing Canadians.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the people in my ride are more concerned about inflation, about housing, about affordability. Those are issues that are very concerning to all Canadians,” he said .
“I am not quite sure that the prayer we have to offer here in the House of Commons is very important to our people that we represent.”