Home Time Portals Get Briefed On... Browse by Subject Teachers' Guides

Browse by Subject

Human Rights

Women's Rights

Minority Rights

Aboriginal Rights

Persons with Disabilities

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Religion

Voting Rights

Criminal Law

International

Charter

Department's History

Ministers



Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

Freedom of Religion

1932

B.C.'s Unemployment Relief Act S.B.C.1932, c. 58 makes it illegal to refuse to employ someone because of his or her political affiliation, race or religious views. The act is based on a federal-provincial agreement.

Ontario's Insurance Act S.O. 1932, c.24, s. 4 is amended to make it an offence to discriminate between risks on the basis of race or religion of the insured person.

1933

B.C.'s Unemployment Relief Act stipulates that B.C. cannot discriminate on the basis of political affiliation, race or religious when allocating farmland (S.B.C. 1933, c.71).

1934

Under Manitoba's Libel Act, persons who are libelled because of their race or creed in ways that are likely to expose them to hatred, contempt or ridicule have the right to get a court order stopping the offender from publishing the libel.

1937

S. 6 of Regulations under Ontario's Community Halls Act states that no organization shall be denied the use of halls erected under the act for religious, fraternal, or political reasons.

1942

The Alberta Land Sales Prohibition Act, S.A 1942, c.16 makes it illegal for members of religious groups like Hutterites, Doukobhors, and enemy aliens to buy land.

1944

Alberta's Land Sales Prohibition Act is struck down by the courts because it refers to enemy aliens. It is re-enacted to refer to religious Hutterites only (S.A. 1944, c.15).

1945

In Re McDougall and Waddell [1945] 2 D.L.R. 244, the Supreme Court upholds a restrictive covenant which makes it impossible to sell the land involved in the case to non-gentiles.

In Re Drummond Wren [1945] O.R. 778 , a restrictive covenant restraining the sale of land to Jews is struck down as contrary to public policy and contrary to prevailing public opinion.

The B.C. Social Assistance Act S.B.C. 1945, c.62, s.8 prohibits discrimination based on colour, creed, race, or political affiliation in the administration of social assistance programs.

1950

Ontario's Conveyancing and Law of Property Act is amended (S.O. 1950, c.11) to prohibit restrictive covenants based on colour, race, and creed.

Manitoba's Law of Property Act is amended (S.M. 1950 (1st Sess.), C. 33) to prohibit restrictive covenants based on colour, race, and creed.

In Noble and Wolf v. Alley [1951] S.C.R. 64, the Supreme Court strikes down a restrictive covenant prohibiting sale of land to Jewish or black persons on the basis that such a covenant does not relate to use of the land and is therefore void for uncertainty.

In R v. Boucher [1951] S.C.R. 265, the Supreme Court of Canada decides that handing out religious pamphlets by Jehovah's Witnesses does not constitute seditious libel and is therefore not a criminal act.

1953

In Saumur v. City of Quebec [1953] 2 S.C.R. 299 , the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down a prohibition on the distribution of leaflets by Jehovah's Witnesses because it is restriction on freedom of religion.

Doukhobours are given the right to vote in B.C. elections.

1955

Doukhobours are given the right to vote in federal elections (S.C. 1955, c.44, s.4).

The Quebec law which authorizes municipal councils to pass by-laws closing stores on Catholic Feast Days is struck down in Birks v. City of Montreal [1955] S.C.R. 799.

1959

In Roncarelli v. Duplessis [1959] S.C.R. 121, damages are ordered against the Premier of Quebec when a liquor license is cancelled arbitrarily as part of actions designed to punish Jehovah's Witnesses.

1960

The Canadian Bill of Rights receives Royal Assent.

Alberta's Communal Property Act is amended to permit increased land holdings by Hutterites with the approval of the Communal Property Control Board.

1963

In Robertson and Rosetanni v. R. [1963] S.C.R. 651, the Lord's Day Act, which prevents businesses from opening on Sunday, is upheld.

1969

The validity of Alberta's Communal Property Act is upheld in Walter et al v. Attorney General of Alberta et al [1969] S.C.R. 383.

1971

The Criminal Code makes it a crime to advocate genocide or publicly incite hatred against people because of their colour, race, religion or ethnic identity.

1972

Alberta's Communal Property Act is repealed (S.A. 1972, c.103).

1982

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enacted as part of the Constitution Act, 1982.

1984

The Supreme Court decides that adherence to the tenets of the Catholic faith is a valid occupational requirement for a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school in Caldwell v. Stuart [1984] 2 S.C.R. 603.

The courts adopt the concept of "adverse effect" discrimination in Ontario (Human Rights Commission) v. Simpson-Sears Ltd. [1985] 2 S.C.R. 536.

1985

Sunday closing laws are a violation of freedom of religion in R. v. Big M Drug Mart 1 S.C.R. 295.

In Bhinder v. C.N.R. [1985] 2 S.C.R. 561, the Supreme Court of Canada decides that accommodation is not a function of the "bona fide occupational qualification" test, and once a BFOQ is proven, the employer has no duty to accommodate .

1988

In Zylberberg v. Sudbury Board of Education (1988) 65 O.R. (2nd) 641, reciting the Lord's Prayer in school is found to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1990

Requiring an employee to work on days which his or her religion prohibits is found to be discrimination in Central Alberta Dairy Pool v. Alberta (Human Rights Commission) [1990] 2 S.C.R. 489.

In R. v. Keegstra (1990) 1 C.R. (4th) 129 (SCC), the Supreme Court of Canada decides that s. 319(2) of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to wilfully promote hatred against a person because of their colour, race, religion or ethic identity, is a reasonable limit of free speech under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1992

In R.v. Zundel [1992] 2 S.C.R. 731, the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the Criminal Code prohibition against spreading false news because it violates freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

An employer and a union are required to reasonably accommodate an employee whose religious beliefs prevent that employee from working on a particular day in Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud [1992] 2 S.C.R 970.

1996

The Supreme Court of Canada decides that a teacher's conduct out of school is relevant to the ability to perform the job in the classroom in Attis v. N.B. School District No. 15 Board of Education [1996] 1 S.C.R. 825.

1999

Reciting the Lord's Prayer before council sessions is found to violate freedom of religion in Freitag v. Penetanguishene (Ont. C.A., September 23, 1999).