Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada St. Mary Cathedral v Teshome Aga

Five members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada complained about what they viewed as heresy in the church. Eventually the church expelled the members, who then sued claiming their rights as members were violated.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the claim, saying it was an internal matter and not for the courts to decide, while the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with the members and ordered a retrial on the basis that the Church's bylaws and the members monetary donations created a legal relationship that could be reviewed by the courts. The Church appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The BCHA intervened to argue that the religious nature of the organization should not shield its decisions and actions from judicial scrutiny. In other words, members of religious and secular organizations should have equal access to judicial review.

Arguments were heard in December 2020. The Court ruled on May 21, 2021 that the case was not justiciable on the grounds that there was no enforceable contract between the members and the church.

Read the BCHA's factum.

Read our summary of the judgement.

At the Supreme Court of Canada, the BCHA was represented by Wes McMillan.

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