The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees political rights to all Canadian citizens and civil liberties for all people in Canada. Section 2 of the Canadian Charter lays out the fundamental freedoms for all people in Canada which includes the freedom of religion. In this paper, it will be shown that every person in Canada has the right to practice their freedom and religion and if they feel as if their riht is infringed they can challenge the issue in the courts. It will be shown that some of the challenges to freedom of religion can only be exerted to a reasonable limit. On the other hand, some of the challenges are valid and that policies and practices will be changed in order to accommodate the right to exercise the right to freely practice religion. There can be limitiations to the freedom of religion if the request is made and is unreasonable, has safety issues, or is in the best interest of the public. Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says the following: 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communications; (c) freedom of peacefully assembly; and
freedom of association.
The fundamental freedom of religion applies to all Canadians and it allows for citizens to “assemble and worship” without limitation or interference. This is how it is interpreted by Canadian law but it does not have limitations to a certain degree of the religious requests made are unreasonable. Laws are rules can hold standing if it is determined that the yare in the best interest of the people. These reasons can include for upholding public safety and or for being in the best interest of the public.
There are groups and organizations that have had standing traditions and policies set in place and there have been disputes and challenges made against these groups for breaching the right to practice religion within the organization. This can include policies on clothing, practice of prayer, dress and deportment, or symbolic items. One example of this would be in the case of Grant v. Canada. In this case it was argues that wearing a Sikh turban as a part of the RCMP uniform does not violate the public’s Charter right to freedom of religion. When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police changed their traditional uniform policy to allow people of the Sikh religion to wear a turban instead of the otherwise mandated forage hat there were public complaints that this was interrupting the police figure by compelling others to practice the Sikh religion. It was then determined by the courts that by letting a police officer wear a turban as part of his or her unifrm it does not require the public to participate in the religious practice of the officer. In April of 1989 a bulletin was issued by Commissioner Inkster, to effect a change in the RCMP manual by changing the relative Standing Orders. These changes inflicted the following into the manual: (CanLII, 1995) 1. General
a. Members who practice the Sikh religion may wear:
1. an RCMP-issue turban in place of the standard issue headdress provided it conceals the hair and is neat; 2. under the uniform, a small Kirpan, the symbolic Sikh sword, or replica thereof, having a maximum overall length of 3 [cad034]; 3. a Kara, i.e. a symbolic Sikh iron braclet, and a Khanga, i.e. a Sikh comb worn in the hair under the rurban; and 4. facial hair and other uncut hair provided the following criteria are complied with: 1. uncut hair will be concealed under the issue turban.
2. facial hair will be neatly secured and tied, and if necessary, a fine netting material the same color as the hair will be used to keep it neat. b. Apart from the exceptions outlined in 1.a., all other rules concerning dress and appearance will apply. A member of the Sikh religion may obtain the turban cloth and badge, by...
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