Launching legal action against the City of Parksville's council prayer

In a letter sent yesterday, counsel for the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) advised the City of Parksville that the BCHA will be commencing legal proceedings against the City for its breach of the duty of religious neutrality.

Following the 2022 local elections, Parksville's inaugural council meeting included "blessings" from Andrew Gulevich of the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church. Gulevich's prayer was explicitly Christian, asking attendees "to pray with me, to our God" and concluding with "I pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus, amen." Parksville's 2018 inaugural council meeting also began with a prayer from a pastor from the same church.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

We wrote to Parksville before releasing our 2020 report on prayers in municipal governments. We wrote to them again following the 2022 elections. When their inaugural council meeting agenda was released, we publicly called for them to observe the law. And we wrote to them twice at the end of last year asking for confirmation that they would end the practice. So far, we've received no formal response. Today, we're following through to ensure Parksville observes its constitutional duty.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada found that prayers at municipal council meetings were unconstitutional as they violated the state's duty of religious neutrality. Since 2020, the BCHA has been auditing compliance with the decision among municipalities in BC and across the country.

Read the letter

Watch the prayer:

The BCHA is being represented by Joel V. Payne, Allen/McMillan Litigation Counsel.

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