A Quebec mayor is set to head to court today in a bid to reverse a decision banning prayers before his city council meetings.

Saguenay's colourful mayor, Jean Tremblay, says he's fighting to preserve the province's Roman Catholic heritage.

Tremblay launched a fundraising drive to fight the court case which started after a complaint from a local resident.

The Quebec human rights tribunal had ordered the prayers be stopped, the crucifix in the city council chamber be removed and that damages be paid to the citizen who complained.

Tremblay says many Saguenay residents are behind his fight and have given him money to fund the legal battle.

The Quebec Court of Appeal is hearing the case.

Tremblay says he's optimistic about his chances.

"For sure, when you go to court, you expect to win," Tremblay said in an interview Sunday. "But it is not only the trial of Jean Tremblay. It is more than that: it is about the whole culture of Quebec."

Isabelle Racine, the mayor's lawyer, has said she plans to argue that the ban threatens traditions and institutions such as Canadian currency, the national anthem, oaths, monuments and religious holidays.

She wants the court to better define the neutrality of the state.