Canada Religion

Canada Religion

Religious freedom prevails. According to figures from 2011, two-thirds of Canadians counted as Christians. The group that had grown the most since the 2001 census was the one that said it had absolutely no religion, from 16.5 percent to just under 24 percent. The Catholics were still the most. Nearly two in five residents belonged to the Catholic Church (of which about six million in Quebec). However, in recent years, Quebecians have become increasingly secularized and language plays a greater role for their identity than religion.

The largest Protestant denominations among Canada’s United Church (United Church of Canada) and the Anglican Church. There are also many Pentecostal friends, Baptists, Quakers, Greek Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox and Mormons.

Several relatively small conservative and Bible-based Protestant churches, as Canadian Alliance Church (Alliance Church of Canada) that the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper belong, has increased its political influence.

In 2011, just over 3 percent of the population was Muslims, while Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus constituted about 1 percent each. Most of those belonging to a religious minority live in or near Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. A large part of them have immigrated to Canada after the turn of the millennium.

There was also a small group, 64,000 people, who said they were practicing traditional indigenous religions.

According to recent figures coming from a survey conducted by the US research institute Pew Research Center, in 2018, 55 percent of Canadians counted as Christians (of which 29 percent were Catholics and 18 percent Protestants), while a total of 30 percent said they were either atheists (8 percent), agnostic (5 percent) or “nothing special” (16 percent). Older Canadians are more often religious than younger. Secularisation went extremely fast in Québec.

Canada Population Pyramid 2020

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Canada, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.

Anti-Muslim sentiments have increased in recent years and in 2017 six people were shot dead in a mosque in Québec City (see Calendar). Anti-Semitism is also a problem. In 2018, nearly 1,800 hate crimes were reported in Canada, of which just over a third were religiously motivated. However, this was a decrease compared to the previous year. The decrease is mainly crimes against Muslims, which had increased strongly between 2016 and 2017. Also, hate crimes against Jews rose sharply between 2016 and 2017 (63 percent), but in 2018 they remained at about the same level as before (- 4 percent).

In 2013, the provincial government of Quebec, which was then led by the separatist Quebec Party (PQ), considered making the provincial government completely secular. In its proposal, Charter of Values, PQ suggested that it would be prohibited for civil servants to wear religious symbols (small crucifixes or similar symbols would, however, be allowed). The proposal was criticized by both the Ottawa government and many of the other parties both in the province and at the federal level. The plans were abandoned when PQ lost the provincial election in 2014, but in 2015 the new Liberal government presented a bill in the same spirit. As a result, in the fall of 2017, it was banned for anyone who works in the public sector in Québec or who uses its services to cover their faces. However, it was possible, for example, for women who wear a full veil to apply for an exemption (according to Canadian media, about 6 percent of the Muslim women in the province of niqab or burqa). It was also forbidden to teach a religion in preschools that receive public funding. The law was criticized, among other things, by the mayor of Montreal who claimed that the provincial government exceeded its powers and that the proposal violated the city’s multicultural character. However, parts of the legislation could not come into force when they were appealed to court. The law was criticized, among other things, by the mayor of Montreal who claimed that the provincial government exceeded its powers and that the proposal was contrary to the city’s multicultural character. However, parts of the legislation could not come into force when they were appealed to court. The law was criticized, among other things, by the mayor of Montreal who claimed that the provincial government exceeded its powers and that the proposal violated the city’s multicultural character. However, parts of the legislation could not come into force when they were appealed to court.

Since the Coalition for the Future of Québec (CAQ) 2018 came to power in Québec, a further tightening of the law, Bill 21, will take place, and it will be prohibited, for example, for some public servants – teachers, civil servants, judges and police – to wear religious symbols during working hours. (see Calendar).

According to a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2012, the courts decide on a case-by-case basis whether a person can testify with a covered face. At the ceremony held for new Canadian citizens, women are not allowed to cover their faces. But the Supreme Court has also ruled (2006) that a Sikh student in Quebec would be allowed to carry his symbolic dagger, the church, at school. Sikhs serving in the army are exempted from parts of the dress code in order for them to wear turban. In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for the failure of Canada in 1939 to receive a ship of 900 Jewish refugees.



Diplomatic quarrel with Venezuela

24 December

Canada expels Venezuela’s two highest diplomats in response to Venezuela the day before sending Canada’s chargé d’affaires home. Venezuela accuses Canada of “rude interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs” as Canada has criticized Venezuela’s president Maduro and the Venezuelan government for corruption and for violating the human rights of its citizens. The day before Venezuela expelled the Canadian diplomat, Canada had imposed new sanctions on Maduro and some of his ministers.

Trudeau violated ethics law

December 20

A representative of the state institution that oversees politicians and officials does not violate the country’s ethical laws by accepting gifts reports that Prime Minister Trudeau did just that when he allowed his family last holiday on luxury holidays at the billionaire and philanthropist Aga Khan’s private island in the Caribbean (see March 2017). The country’s ethical commissioner, Mary Dawson, notes that while the prime minister did not discuss any government issues with Aga Khan during the visit, there were simultaneous negotiations between Khan’s charity and the Canadian state and that it could therefore be suspected that Trudeau had the trip under pressure. Trudeau says he is sorry for his mistake and explains that he thought the trip was not controversial because the legislation allows gifts from close friends and that he considers Aga Khan to be a close friend of the Trudaeu family. It is the first time ever that a head of government has been found to have violated the Code of Ethics, but Trudeau will not have to shake the grid. Violations of the Code of Ethics impose no penalty.

New system for family reunions is criticized

December 14

The government decides in 2018 to introduce a new system, with regard to privately sponsored family reunions, in the form of a kind of lottery where those who register can become one of 10,000 who get the right to move to Canada. Until now, the applications have been processed in the order they were received. The new system attracts criticism, partly because it is so arbitrary, and partly because the change takes place at such short notice. The old system has also been criticized, partly because not all of the approved ones met the requirements set for receiving their parents or grandparents in Canada.


Trudeau apologizes to LGBT people

November 28

Prime Minister Justin Trudeua asks in a speech in the lower house the country’s LGBTQapologists for the discrimination they have been subjected to by the Canadian state over the years. He expresses a collective sense of “shame, sorrow and regret” for how civil servants, military and criminals were treated because of their sexual orientation. Thousands of LGBT people lost their jobs between 1950 and 1990. The reason for this was that the authorities feared that they might be subjected to extortion by Soviet agents during the Cold War. Those who openly admitted that they were gay were dismissed, while others were harassed until they resigned. In the 1960s, the federal police also compiled a list of 9,000 homosexuals in the Ottawa area. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969, but it was not until 1992 that a court ordered the military to stop the discrimination against gay men and women. 110 million Canadian dollars are set aside for damages to around 3,000 people who participated in a class action lawsuit against the state. Additional funding is allocated to, among other things, reconciliation work and education.

Minister of Finance Morneau in windy weather

November 27th

Finance Minister Bill Morneau ends up in blustery weather as he refuses to say whether he sold shares for 10 million Canadian dollars the week before introducing new tax laws that would strike high-income earners. This applies to shares in Morneau Sheppell, the family business Morneau led before he was elected to the lower house in 2015. After the criticism, he has sold his remaining shares in the company.

Trudeau apologizes for abuses against First Nations

November 24

Prime Minister Trudeau apologizes to the indigenous people, First Nations, of Newfoundland and Labrador for the abuses committed in the five boarding schools run by Christian organizations in the province of 1949 to 1979. during his time at the schools. Former students have testified about both sexual and other physical abuses and how they lost both language and cultural identity. In 2016, the government concluded a deal with about a thousand students who were awarded damages totaling 50 million Canadian dollars.

Canada announces new rapid response force for UN missions

November 15

Canada will create a 200-man rapid response force that can be deployed for five years in the UN peacekeeping mission around the world. However, there are far fewer soldiers than the 600 that Prime Minister Trudeau promised in 2016. However, General Jonathan Vance, who is the commander of the country’s defense forces, says the number may be gradually increased. In addition to the 200 soldiers, however, Canada also promises to help with other personnel, including 120 police officers, combat helicopters, transport planes and more. The government also makes promises of 21 million Canadian dollars to train military personnel in other countries and to recruit women for peacekeeping missions and strengthen the security of personnel who are on dangerous missions.

Duterte “offended” by Trudeau’s MR criticism

November 14

Prime Minister Trudeau visits the Philippines in connection with a summit of ASEAN and says he discussed human rights issues with President Rodrigo Duterte. At a press conference later, Duterte said he is only responsible to the Filipino people and that he saw Trudeau’s speech as a personal insult. Trudeau, for his part, described the meeting with Duterte as “cordial”.

The TPP agreement survives without the United States

November 11

The eleven countries that, in addition to the United States, signed the Free Trade Agreement TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), announce that they have agreed to retain key parts of the agreement, even without US participation (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).

Trudeau’s friend points out in “Paradise Leak”

November 5

Stephen Bronfman, a close associate and close friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is highlighted in the so-called Paradise Leak, where 13.4 million documents reveal transactions done through so-called tax havens. He is accused of spending millions of dollars in tax havens on behalf of former Liberal Senator Leo Kolber for 24 years. The attorneys representing Bronfman and Kolber say that both men deny that they have tried to avoid paying taxes and that no transactions have been illegal. The matter is still sensitive to Trudeau, who has criticized the tax haven. Bronfman helped raise money for the Liberal Party ahead of the 2015 election.


Quebec faces controversial law on “religious neutrality”

October 17

The provincial parliament in Québec adopts a new law of “religious neutrality” which comes into force immediately. The law prohibits anyone who works in the public sector in Québec or who uses its services to cover their faces. However, it is possible, for example, for women who wear a full veil to apply for an exemption (according to Canadian media, about 6 percent of the Muslim women in the province of niqab or burqa). It is also forbidden to teach a religion in preschools that receive public funding. However, it is unclear exactly how the rules will be applied, and most judges believe that they will be modified once the courts have had their say. Part of the law also means that limits should be placed on how much a religious group can demand that society be adapted to their needs. However, it will be until July 2018 before the details for this are clear. The new law raises strong resistance in cities such as Montreal and Québec City. In the Montreal subway, women protest by bus and subway dressed in niqab or burka. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticizes the decision, saying it is not a government’s job to decide on how women should dress. The heads of government in Ontario and Alberta also criticize the law.

Prior to this, the astronaut took over as Governor General

October 2

Former astronaut Julie Payette takes over as Canada’s new Governor General. Upon entry, she attaches great importance to reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples. She also emphasizes issues related to science, climate, poverty and the importance of teamwork.

Five injured in suspected terrorist act in Edmonton

October 1st

A 30-year-old refugee from Somalia is suspected of having stabbed a police officer and driven on four pedestrians in the city of Edomonton, Alberta. An IS flag must have been found inside the man’s car. Prime Minister Trudeau calls the incident a terrorist attack. None of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries, and the policeman and two of the pedestrians were allowed to leave the hospital. The suspected man has been arrested.

Jagmeet Singh becomes new NDP leader

October 1st

Jagmeet Singh is elected new party leader for the Social Democratic New Democratic Party (NDP). Singh is Sikh and this will be the first time a person from an ethnic minority is leading a federal party in Canada. He defeats four opposition candidates Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron and gets 53 percent of the vote. The new leader receives his strongest support from new party members. Singh is a lawyer and speaks, besides English, also French and Punjabi.


The United States threatens to impose sanctions on Bombardier

September 26th

The United States announces that it intends to introduce penalties for imports of a certain type of aircraft (CSeries) from the Canadian company Bombardier to almost 300 percent. This has happened since the US accused Canada of distorting competition through the subsidies it receives from the provincial government of Quebec. According to the United States, Delta Air Lines is said to have purchased 70 planes from Bombardier in 2016 at a lower price. This is after a complaint from the American competitor Boeing. Whether the penalty will be imposed will be decided in early 2018. Canada and the United Kingdom, where Bombardier also has aircraft manufacturing, are then threatening to no longer buy military equipment from Boeing.


Haitians leave the United States to seek asylum in Canada

August 27th

Following Donald Trump’s take-over as US President at the beginning of the year, an increasing number of people have moved from the United States to Canada to seek asylum. From January to the end of August, about 10,000 people have arrived, most of whom are believed to be Haitians who fear being expelled if they stay in the United States (about 60,000 Haitians were offered temporary protection in the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, but their residence permit expires out in January 2018).

The Canadian authorities are trying to inform in various ways that these asylum seekers have little chance of staying in Canada. About half of Haitians who have sought political asylum in the country in recent years have been rejected.

The renegotiation of the Nafta agreement begins

August 16th

Negotiations on new conditions for Nafta cooperation between Canada, the United States and Mexico will begin. According to the plans, the talks should be completed before the end of the year. Prime Minister Trudeau says Canada wants to prioritize issues related to workers’ rights and the environment.


Large damages to Omar Khadr

July 7

The Canadian government concludes a settlement with Omar Khadr, who in 2010 was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murdering an American soldier and other war crimes. Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was only 15 years old. He was allowed to return to Canada in 2012, and has subsequently sued the Canadian state for violating his civil rights, and for torture. He also said that his recognition had been pushed forward. Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that Khadr’s human rights had been violated when he was jailed in the US Guantánamo Prison in Cuba. Rthe government now grants him over $ 10 million in damages to him now for apologizing for any misconduct that the Canadian authorities may have made in his case. The murdered soldier’s widow has tried to get a judge to freeze the damages, but the judge says no. The decision to grant Khadr damages is being questioned by many Canadians.


The provincial government falls in disbelief

June 30th

The Liberal provincial government in British Columbia loses a distrust vote by a marginal margin. John Horgan of the NDP gets commissioned to form a new government. In July, he will take the lead in a minority government formed by the NDP together with the Green Party.

New proposal for anti-terrorism laws

June 20

The government presents a bill, C-59, which aims, among other things, to abolish certain sensitive parts of the anti-terrorism legislation that was passed in 2015. It proposes that a new civilian body be created to review what the security service is doing, that some of the powers it the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been removed and the ban on “terrorist propaganda” should be formulated so that it does not violate citizens’ right to peaceful protests. The Conservative Party criticizes the bill, which is said to hamper the ability of security agencies to intervene on suspected terrorists. Others, including the NDP, criticize the fact that C-59 contains no restrictions on the exchange of information between Canada and countries that lack respect for human rights,

The government announces a feminist aid policy

June 9

The Canadian government launches a feminist aid policy. The initiative means that Canada will invest $ 150 million over five years to support local organizations working to promote women’s rights in developing countries. These include investments in education, safe women’s right to birth control and safe abortions. At least half of the support will go to sub-Saharan African countries.

From the financial year 2021/2022, at least 80 percent of Canadian aid should aim to strengthen gender equality and take measures to increase the influence of girls and women. The message is welcomed by several aid organizations.

New investment in defense

7 June

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan announces that the Canadian defense budget will increase by 70 percent over the next ten years. This means that defense costs will correspond to 1.4 percent of GDP in 2024/2015, compared to just over 1 percent today. Among other things, the country will buy 88 advanced combat plans, 23 more than previously planned. The message comes after a NATO summit in which US President Donald Trump demanded that other member states must invest more in defense. The NATO countries have previously pledged to spend the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP on defense.


Trudeau apologizes to the Pope

May 29th

Trudeau visits the Vatican and above where a request is made to the Pope for an apology from the Catholic Church, for the abuses children of indigenous people suffered in Canadian boarding schools for a hundred years from the 1880s. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that presented a report in 2015 suggested an apology from the Pope, as part of a healing process for the victims (see also Indigenous Peoples’ Rights).

Andrew Scheer new Conservative leader

May 28

38-year-old Andrew Scheer is appointed with a slight margin as new leader of the Conservative Party. He defeated his main rival, former Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier, with 51 percent of the vote in the final vote (the 13th in the order).

Liberal electorate in British Columbia

May 9

The Liberal Party wins the provincial election in British Columbia with 43 out of 87 seats and just over 40 percent of the vote. The NDP gets 41 seats and an almost equal share of the votes and the Green Party gets 3 seats and just under 17 percent of the votes.


Agreement to renegotiate Nafta

26th of April

The White House states that the United States has agreed with Canada and Mexico to “quickly” renegotiate Nafta. However, in a telephone conversation with Trudeau, Trump has assured that the United States does not intend to immediately tear up the FTA, as reported in US media. During his election campaign, Trump called Nafta “perhaps the worst trade deal ever”. A trade dispute alongside Nafta has just intensified between countries, since the US decided to impose new duties on Canadian timber and threatened to regulate the importation of dairy products.


Trudeau in windy weather after Bahamas trip

21 March

Prime Minister Trudeau ends up in blustery weather after revealing that his family vacation to billionaire and philanthropist Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas last Christmas should have cost taxpayers the equivalent of $ 127,000. Only the security staff allowance should have cost close to 19,000 Canadian dollars. Several party mates should also have accompanied the trip. In September 2017, media data indicate that costs were significantly higher than Trudeau stated in Parliament, 215,000 Canadian dollars.


The European Parliament approves Cefta

February 15

The European Parliament votes with a clear majority yes to Cefta, the trade agreement with Canada (408 votes to 254 against).

Trudeau visits Trump

February 13

Justin Trudeau visits the United States and meets the new US President Donald Trump. He maintains a low profile in sensitive subjects such as immigration. At a joint press conference, both Trudeau and Trump attach the greatest importance to issues of trade and defense cooperation. Trudeau says Canadians do not expect him to go to Washington and tell another country how it should govern itself. Some of the more concrete topics under discussion are how to proceed with the Keystone X project, a bridge between Windsor and Detroit and measures to facilitate freight across the border. Together with Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Trudeau visited for advice whose mission is to promote women entrepreneurs.


Six dead in attacks against mosque

January 29th

Six people are shot dead and eight injured in an attack on a mosque in Québec City. A French Canadian student is suspected of the act, which both Prime Minister Trudeau and Quebec’s head of government Philippe Couillard call a terrorist attack.

Trudeau marks against Trump

January 28

In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily halt all US refugee reception and ban people from seven mostly Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan Yemen and Libya, for 120 days to enter the United States, Justin tweeted Trudeau that Canada welcomes those fleeing war and terror no matter what religion they belong to and that “diversity enriches”. However, he does not directly criticize Trump. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says that all those affected who have been stranded in Canada will be granted temporary residence permits to stay there for the time being.

US withdraws from TTP

US President Donald Trump announces shortly after his entry into power that the United States should withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with Canada, Japan and several other Pacific countries. He also says the Nafta free trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico should be renegotiated. He also gives the go-ahead for the construction of a controversial oil pipeline, Keystone XL, from Alberta to the United States.

Chrystia Freeland becomes new Foreign Minister

January 10

Justin Trudeau is re-furnishing in his government. One of the biggest changes is that Chrystia Freeland is appointed new Foreign Minister. As Minister of Commerce, she completed the negotiations with the EU on Ceta. She has previously held a high profile on the Ukraine issue and, as a journalist, has criticized Putin’s regime. Since 2014, she is no longer welcome in Russia.

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