Mandating reasonableness in a reasonable inquiry
What is important is that the practice has a nexus with religion (see para 44 of the judgment).In Mouvement laïque québécois v Saguenay (City), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that municipal councils cannot open their meetings with a prayer, since it infringed on freedom of conscience and religion.One example is the decision of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to allow Sikh adherents to wear religious signs when serving the RCMP (e.g.the turban, the beard and the dagger.) The federal court decided that this decision did not infringe the Charter. It is the case of some municipalities that decided that the public swimming pool should be separated between men and women 3 hours a week (1h30 each) to accommodate observant Muslims.This decision illustrates another limit to reasonable accommodation: public interest.The Court explains that "[g]iving effect to each of their religious claims could seriously undermine the universality of many regulatory programs [...] to the overall detriment of the community." The duty of reasonable accommodation has a major impact on the promotion of multiculturalism protected under Section Twenty-seven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mendes suggests that reasonable accommodation is part of the "Canadian paradigm", in contradistinction with the French "laïcité." Besides the cases brought to courts, there are many examples of reasonable accommodation negotiated in a non-judiciary context.These provincial legislations oblige actors under their jurisdiction (employers, service providers and landlords) to respect the duty to accommodate, to preserve a multicultural society.The particularity of the duty to accommodate on religious grounds is that cases fall both under the jurisdiction of the Charter and other federal and provincial human rights acts and that they challenge the notions of social values, secularism and gender equality.
In Manitoba, section 9(1)(d) of the Human Rights Code defines discrimination as a "failure to make reasonable accommodation for the special needs of any individual or group if those special needs are based upon" prohibited grounds.
It implies that “federal/provincial/territorial anti-discrimination measures place a positive duty on employers, service providers and landlords [...] to accommodate people's needs for reasons associated with recognized discriminatory grounds." According to Sandra Fredman, the duty of reasonable accommodation "represents and advance towards substantive equality" for three reasons.
Firstly, "equality is explicitly asymmetric, aiming to redress disadvantage even if this entails different or more favourable treatment." Secondly, it is focused "on modifying the environment to facilitate the participation of those affected." Finally, "[it] goes beyond other conceptions of equality in that it expressly imposes a positive duty to make changes." The notion of reasonable accommodation is directly related to the freedom of religion.
The basis for the ruling was that churches are required to comply with their own internal rules and laws, and members of the church have the right to be treated in accordance with those internal rules and laws.
In the specific point in issue in the Guibord case, the Judicial Committee ruled that the Roman Catholic church in Montreal could not refuse the burial of a deceased member of the church because of his political views. Amselem, the Supreme Court of Canada provided a two-pronged test to introduce a freedom of religion claim: first, a demonstration of practice or a belief having a nexus with religion.