Niagara Falls Mayor responds to questions about prayer at 80th Inauguration of City Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 13, 2018

The Niagara Falls City Council inaugural ceremony held on Monday, December 10th at the Gale Centre saw the swearing-in of 8 Members of Council and Mayor Jim Diodati.  The order of events included a bagpipe-led procession, singing of the national anthem and a non-denominational prayer followed by each Member of Council taking their oath of office. 

As of May of 2015, City Council eliminated the practice of reciting a prayer at the start of each regular council meeting.  This came after a Supreme Court decision stemming from a complaint in a Quebec municipality, the City of Saguenay.  The decision indicated that the use of prayer at meetings represented a violation of human rights. 

“The inaugural swearing-in ceremony of the new City Council is a special event.  Like at weddings or funerals, we reach for ceremonial elements that help make it special, to elevate and separate it from the norm.  Our Inauguration included music, a procession led with the playing of bagpipes and a non-denominational prayer.  I would like to offer an apology to anyone who may have been offended by this.  I was pleased with the Inaugural Ceremony and proud of the event and the way it was put together.  Myself and Members of Council look forward to being able to turn our focus to the matters of importance that deserve our attention including affordable housing, homelessness, mental health, growth and infrastructure among other pressing issues which help ensure the well-being of our community.”

-       Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls

Key points:

  • As this marks the first swearing-in since the Supreme Court decision in 2015 that limited a Quebec municipality from the use of prayer during regular meetings, there has not yet been an example of ceremonial commemorations, events, and observances.
  • Prayer, drum circles, music, processions, flag raisings and proclamations were included in inaugural ceremonies by municipalities both locally and across the Province of Ontario this month.
  • The prayer that was offered at the City of Niagara Falls inaugural was read before the swearing-in of the new Council Members took place.
  • The bible was used during the swearing-in ceremony as each Council Member had the option to swear their oath of office on the bible, or affirm their oath without the bible.
  • Though this Supreme Court decision was specific to municipal government meetings, every morning the Ontario Provincial Legislature begins their proceedings with the Lord’s Prayer followed by a rotation of other religious prayers, scriptures or a moment of silence.
  • Prayer opens every meeting at the House of Commons of Canada.  The prayer is followed by a moment of silence for private reflection and meditation.  The text of the prayer read at the House of Commons is as follows:

Almighty God, we give thanks for the great blessings which have been bestowed on Canada and its citizens, including the gifts of freedom, opportunity and peace that we enjoy.  We pray for our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, and the Governor General.  Guide us in our deliberations as Members of Parliament, and strengthen us in our awareness of our duties and responsibilities as Members.  Grant us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to preserve the blessings of this country for the benefit of all and to make good laws and wise decisions.  Amen. 

For more information:

Carey Campbell

Manager, Office of the Mayor and CAO

City of Niagara Falls

Phone: 905 356 7521 ext. 4206

Cell:  905 380 4594

Email: ccampbell@niagarafalls.ca

Posted on: 12/13/2018 3:55 PM - Category: Media Releases