In its French version, O Canada is loaded with Christian imagery. Its first verse hails a Canada carrying the cross in its arms and invokes “valour steeped in faith.” A later, seldom-sung verse declares, “Christ is king.”
VIDEO: English translation of official French lyrics for ‘Oh Canada’
On Monday, Louiseville Mayor Yvon Deshaies opened the monthly council meeting by asking people to stand as he recited an abridged version of the anthem, which included the lines about the cross and faith as well as a French translation of “God keep our land glorious and free,” from the English O Canada.
Deshaies then hung a crucifix on the wall of the community centre where the meeting was held, drawing applause from most of the roughly 70 people in attendance
In an interview Wednesday, he said his actions were in response to news about religious minorities seeking to work as police officers in Quebec while wearing such symbols as the hijab and turban. “Where are we headed?” he asked.
Mayor since 2013, he said a prayer was read before Louiseville council meetings until the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 on a case involving a Christian prayer and symbols used by Saguenay city council.
The court ruled against the prayer, saying council meetings must be “neutral public space free from coercion, pressure and judgment on the part of public authorities in matters of spirituality.” But it did not oblige Saguenay to remove a crucifix and statue of Jesus with a glowing red heart, declaring them historical artifacts.
Deshaies said he was inspired in part by the example of Hérouxville. The town about 45 kilometres away adopted a controversial “code of life” in 2007 declaring, among other things, that it was forbidden to stone women and that face-coverings were only allowed at Halloween.
This article continues at [National Post] Barred from reading a prayer at council meetings, Quebec mayor tries O Canada instead