This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-06-03

by | June 3, 2018


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the courts have no jurisdiction to address the procedural fairness of religious groups or other volunteer organizations.

Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Judicial Committee) v. Wall involved a man who was expelled from his religious community and raised the question of whether the decisions by private, volunteer organizations should be subject to judicial review. Canada’s highest court found that judicial review is limited to public decision-makers and there is no right to procedural fairness absent an underlying legal right, according to the decision, which overturned rulings from the Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal of Alberta.

“Issues of theology are not justiciable,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Rowe, who delivered the judgment.”


“A new Supreme Court ruling that Jehovah’s Witnesses are free to banish and shun any member they wish, regardless of how they decide to do it, offers a powerful precedent for religious independence in Canada.

It follows years of uncertainty of just how deeply into the waters of faith and doctrine Canada’s judges are willing or able to wade.

Now the limits are clear, thanks to the case of Randy Wall, a Calgary real estate agent and longtime Jehovah’s Witness whose “disfellowship” destroyed his client base and led him to seek redress in the courts. He did not dispute the right of the Highwood Congregation to banish him, but claimed they did so unfairly, without telling him detailed allegations, or whether he could have counsel or a record of proceedings.”


“WASHINGTON, D.C., May 31, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a report on international religious freedom on Tuesday that includes Canada’s battles over freedom of conscience and parental rights as concerning international incidents.

The report documents Ontario’s Christian doctors’ fight for conscience rights and the government’s inclusion of gender expression and identity in child welfare law. Pro-life and pro-family advocates have warned that the latter gives the state license to remove children from homes if their parents are not accepting enough of the LGBT cause.

Pompeo also announced his department will host a conference on international religious liberty, “Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom,” in Washington. “


“When Farida Pedhiwala couldn’t articulate the importance of giving charity and sharing wealth to the less fortunate with her three-year-old son, Adam, she decided she was going to show him instead.

Inspired by her son, Pedhiwala began a program — in partnership with ICNA Relief Canada in Mississauga — and will be collecting toy donations until July 4 that will be distributed to families through the food bank to children celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

Eid al-Fitr, a celebration marking the end of Ramadan, is a day where families come together, eat, and give presents to children.

Pedhiwala says like her family donates and volunteers with different charities during December for Christmas, she wanted to do it for Eid as well, and hopes to see the program become an annual event. ”


“Canada “does not censor” what it posts to Chinese social media, a Foreign Affairs official said, after a report raised questions about how countries communicate on the tightly controlled Chinese internet.

Authorities in China routinely delete and otherwise restrict communications made by foreign embassies on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, whose reach to large numbers of Chinese people has made it a desired location for “weiplomacy.”

But a report this week that documented the censorship taking place also pointed out countries whose Weibo posts are not being aggressively censored, including Canada, calling into question whether they are redacting themselves.

In at least two instances in the past month, messages posted to Weibo by the Canadian embassy in Beijing differ substantially from those posted to Twitter.”

Source: Media Release (06/01/2018) Ottawa, ON – The facts of Wall case revolve around Mr. Wall who was “dis-fellowed” (expelled) from his Jehovah’s Witness congregation due to allegations of drunkenness and misbehavior with his family. Mr. Wall brought an application for Judicial Review of the Congregation’s decision alleging that the expulsion affected his livelihood as a realtor since many of his clients were Jehovah’s Witnesses who no longer gave him business. The Court of Queen’s Bench concluded that the Court had jurisdiction to hear the Judicial Review application based on Wall’s economic interest on whether he was afforded due process before this disfellowship.

The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the lower court decision. The Congregation then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The WSO was granted intervener status in the case by the Supreme Court of Canada on August 24, 2017 and the appeal was heard by the Court on November 2, 2017. The WSO has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada five times as an intervener- four of those cases, such as this one, involved non-Sikh appellants.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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