HomeWorldFundy Albert backed out of the council meeting prayerOUS News

Fundy Albert backed out of the council meeting prayerOUS News

OUS Updates and news.

New Brunswick’s southeastern province has already backed away from a previous vote to offer a prayer at the start of city council meetings and will instead offer a time of reflection.

Fundy Albert Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday in a standing room only meeting and with 60 people watching online.

The original Feb. 6 vote prompted immediate calls to reconsider the decision in the newly created district south of Moncton that includes Alma, Riverside-Albert and Hillsborough.

Teach. Loretta Elderkin moved to amend the original prayer motion by removing an allusion to prayer, replacing the act with a period of silent meditation.

It will be followed by a “commitment,” which says:

“We, Fundy Albert, proudly promote a healthy, safe, vibrant and inclusive community. We are dedicated to delivering the best services and making a meaningful public presentation. Please allow us the confidence to receive the something we can’t change, the courage to accept the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Elderkin said the revision stemmed from last month’s opinion on “a continued release both for and against” the prayer.

“I understand that it’s not necessarily personal, but I understand that we represent everyone here in this community, and we have to come to a common ground and I suggest that this will be a common ground ,” Elderkin said.

‘Generated serious controversy’: Mayor

Mayor Robert Rochon, who said he was raised Roman Catholic, voted against the prayer motion last month and in favor of reversing it on Tuesday.

The mayor said last month’s vote was “an issue that has caused a lot of controversy.” He said there were many who contacted the community in support of, and many against, a prayer.

Rochon read the text of a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decision against prayer at a Quebec council meeting. It is unclear whether the February vote happened with the legal proposal that accounted for the 2015 decision.

“My understanding of the Supreme Court’s decision is that the state – our local government – must adhere to principles of religious neutrality that do not favor one faith over another,” Rochon said.

Man in ball cap and camoflauge-colored jacket.
Fundy Albert Mayor Robert Rochon said the court’s ruling means the provincial government must maintain religious neutrality. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

He was one of two council members who spoke about the potential financial cost of appearing to act against the nation’s highest court.

Teach. James Coates seconded the motion.

“I feel that by dragging this out as long as we have, it will end up costing the taxpayers of Albert County, Fundy Albert, a lot of money to go to the Supreme Court – if it goes there, and that it’s possible — if you’re pushed by people who say ‘no prayer,'” Coates said.

Jeff Jonah, who introduced the prayer motion in February and questioned the legality of the 2015 court ruling in comments to CBC News last month, opposed Tuesday’s change.

“I didn’t think this would get on this face,” Jonah said.

Teach. Jeff Land had a second vote against removing the prayer.

“I know that we keep many different beliefs, and people don’t like church and state, but this little prayer I don’t think causes any conflict going forward, and this is my own view,” Land said.

Teach. Heather Ward Russell voted in favor, saying she believed in prayer but did not believe in mixing church and state.

Three people spoke before the vote in favor of prayer, including Pastor Paul Steeves with Hillsborough Baptist Church. The words they say after the prayer are full of praise from the audience.