The Mayor of Saguenay just won't back down. In spite of a pending Quebec HRC complaint against him, he is determined to maintain prayer at City Council meetings. I have loosely translated this article from the Quotidien, the local paper:
Jean Tremblay, mayor of Saguenay, showed his determination to keep prayer inside City Hall at a meeting Monday night, in the wake of a Quebec Human Rights Commission ruling that said that prayer at City Hall is unacceptable. Before the meeting began, he announced to the assembly that he would recite a prayer that was different than the one used in the past. He said that this particular prayer had been ruled acceptable by a Court in Ontario, and therefore passes legal muster. He said “it’s even more beautiful than my own.” He had also asked that his 19 Councillors remained seated, but they all stood in solidarity. “They’re just as determined as I am, “ said the Mayor.
Jean Tremblay is refining his strategy, as he is being sued for 100 000$ by Alain Simoneau of the Mouvement laïc québécois, and must soon be subject to a HRC hearing, but no date has been set. The HRC had already ruled against the city of Laval, stating that prayer in front of a city council meeting was contrary to the neutrality that government institutions must maintain. The new prayer is of the same length as the former one, that is, about twenty seconds. The mayor was unable to say which Ontario Court had approved of this particular prayer. He said he would defend this cause to the very end, even if he had to use public money. He restated that his religious convictions are more important than his political career. “I am Catholic. I believe in God. I will not bend on this issue, even if it means it could hamper me in my political role. I am not a visionary reciting my rosary out loud. I am not creating any discomfort and I am not trying to convert anyone. I am not bothering anyone with a 21-second prayer recited once a month.”'
You know, if Stephen Harper were to recruit this guy, I think we could have a Sarah Palin moment, too. Sure, maybe he doesn't speak a word of English. Who cares. That's why we have bilingualism anyway.
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