Edmonton

No 'moment of reflection' at Edmonton city council

Supreme Court ruled the state needs to remain neutral on religion and beliefs

Don Iveson

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said it was a shame the Supreme Court ruling meant city councillors could no longer open meetings with an interfaith prayer. (CBC)

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Future Edmonton city council meetings will not start with either a multifaith prayer or a moment of reflection, which was contemplated as a replacement. 

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled last year that saying a prayer before the start of a council meeting violates the duty for councillors to be neutral.

To comply with the ruling, administration recommended meetings start with a "moment of reflection," which needed to be non-controversial, non-political and non-religious.

But councillors decided Tuesday it was better to just go without what Mayor Don Iveson called "a vanilla pudding" moment. 

Iveson said it was a shame that Edmonton couldn't keep the interfaith prayer, which he felt was inclusive. 

"A practice like ours, which could have been the alternative and very inclusive, was also made essentially illegal by the ruling," Iveson said. "So we have very little choice in the matter."

The Supreme Court ruling came out of a challenge of a practice by councillors in the Quebec town of Saguenay, who started each council meeting with a Catholic prayer.

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