CCLA has been granted leave to intervene in Loyola High School, et al. v. Attorney General of Quebec. This case, scheduled to be heard by the Court on March 24, 2014, is the second time that the Court will consider an issue related to the province of Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) curriculum which was put in place several years ago when the province went through the process of moving away from a confessional system of education. Loyola, a private Catholic high school in Montreal, sought an exemption from the Minister of Education on the basis that it taught a course that was equivalent to the ERC course but was in keeping with its mission as a Catholic school. The Minister denied the exemption arguing, in part, that as a religious institution (and not an individual), Loyola could not make a freedom of religion claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
While CCLA recognizes that freedom of religion is often thought of as an individual right, it also has significant associational and expressive aspects. Therefore, in certain cases, where a non-profit institution is primarily a vehicle through which individual members exercise their own freedom of religion, association and expression, the institution itself can make a claim under the Charter freedom.