City council has officially voted to do away with opening its council meetings with ‘a moment of reflection.’ It ends a couple of years of logistical gymnastics that came about because of a complaint in another part of the country.
For years, Edmonton opened its meetings with prayer, until the Supreme Court of Canada weighed in on a complaint against the municipal council in the Quebec town of Saguenay and how it was overwhelmingly single denominational.
Edmonton wanted to follow the pathway it had created over the last three decades, however Mayor Don Iveson said legally, it wasn’t possible. “The Supreme Court just left no room to make it really meaningful I think, and so what we were left with was kind of a vanilla pudding reflection moment and I think we can do better than that.”
“It’s a shame that, that practice that we had which was very inclusive and very respectful, we can’t sort of achieve by other means so we are where we are. We’ll just start the meetings and move through them.”
“It’s a great irony that parliament and the senate and legislatures can still do this because the court doesn’t rule what happens in those legislatures,” Iveson said, “but because we’re kind of constitutionally at the children’s table as local government the courts can tell us what to do and not do in our own government.”
It took a long time to get to this point. The Supreme Court ruling in 2011, wrapped up a nine year legal battle in Quebec.