Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Canadian Court Dismisses Religious Discrimination Challenge To Royal Succession Rules

Earlier this year, Canada's Parliament passed the Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, which gives assent to the amendments now passed by the British Parliament that eliminate preferences for male heirs in succession to the throne, and eliminates the ban on a monarch being married to a Catholic.  However the British initiative retains the ban on a Catholic actually becoming king or queen of England. In Tesky v. Canada (Attorney General), (Ont. Super. Ct., Aug. 9, 2013), an Ontario trial court dismissed a suit brought by a Catholic recent law graduate contending that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms precludes Canada from consenting to legislation that discriminates on the basis of religion. The court held that the rules of succession cannot be challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because the succession rules themselves are in effect part of the Constitution.  It also concluded that plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the rules:
[Plaintiff] ... is a member of the Catholic faith but that appears to be his only interest in the issues raised in this application. He has no connection to the Royal Family. He raises a purely hypothetical issue which may never occur, namely a Roman Catholic Canadian in line for succession to the throne being passed over because of his or her religion. Should this ever occur a proper factual matrix would be available to the court to deal with a matter of this importance.
Yesterday's Law Times reported on the decision.