New Brunswick Legislative Assembly says no to Hindu prayer
Rajan Zed was denied his Hindu prayer reading at the opening of the new session of the Legislative Assembly in New Brunswick.
The New Brunswick Legislative Assembly refused a request for a single reading of a non-Christian prayer at the opening of the next sitting.
Rajan Zed, an American resident who has already read Hindu prayers at legislatures and city councils in the United States, offered to read a Hindu prayer in New Brunswick. His proposal was refused.
In a press release, Zed explains that Assembly New Brunswick Speaker Bill Oliver and Assembly Clerk Shayne Davies denied his request, citing current Christian prayer. p>
“As the President has indicated, our well-established practice for over a century is to begin each day with a prayer composed of two distinct invocations followed by the Our Father. At present, the assembly does not intend to change this practice.
— Shayne Davies, Clerk of the Assembly, responding to Rajan Zed
In a press release, Rajan Zed considers that this refusal is a case of flagrant injustice, of attitude of exclusion, of discrimination, of favoritism imposing only one type of religion.
In an email sent to CBC, he explains that he made his request in November and has already applied in 2009 and 2010.
Kanwal Chadha, President of the Hindu Temple of Fredericton, believes that this prayer would have been a positive signal to the towards the community.
Kanwal Chadha, president of the Hindu Temple of Fredericton, believes that this prayer would have been a positive signal to the thousands of Hindus in New Brunswick. But he does not say he is upset by the refusal of the assembly. We cannot force anyone, Mr. Chadha believes.
For Naman Sharma, director of the Hindu Society of New Brunswick, this refusal is a disappointment, because the Legislative Assembly is supposed to be secular, according to him.
He would like to see a rotation of prayers as can be done in the Legislative Assembly in Ontario.
According to him, the request for Rajan Zed might have had more success if he had contacted the local Hindu community and asked them to make this request.
In 2019, Green MP Kevin Arseneau proposed replacing prayer with a silent moment of worship and reflection, as is done in Quebec. The Conservative Party and the People's Alliance of New Brunswick opposed this proposal.
Green MP Kevin Arseneau proposed in 2019 to establish a silent moment of worship and reflection.
If a moment of silent reflection is his preference, Kevin Arseneau believes that a diversity of cults would not be a bad thing at all. It would be a great way to show that the Legislative Assembly belongs to all New Brunswickers.
The Liberals have not taken a formal position on the assembly's refusal , saying the Legislative Administration Committee should discuss it.
As a party, we want the Legislative Assembly to be as open, welcoming and inclusive as possible . We would therefore be in favor of this subject being discussed by the committee, said House Leader Guy Arseneault in an emailed statement.
With information from Jacques Poitras by CBC