Skip to main content

Canadian Wrongs: Jehovah's Witnesses before the Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada decisions

Saumur v. City of Quebec 1953

Laurier Samur, a practicing Jehovah’s Witness questioned a City of Quebec by-law, forbidding the distribution in the street of the City of any book, pamphlet, bookley, circular, tract whatever without permission from the Chief of Police.  In a 5-4 majority decision, the Supreme Court upheld Quebec’s power. 

Chaput v. Romain (1955)

Members of the provincial police broke up a meeting that was conducted by a minister of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the appellant’s house. They seized a Bible, hymn books and pamphlets and ordered the witnesses to disperse. This entry and seizure was done without a warrant and the Supreme Court upheld that the appeal should be allowed and the damages assessed. 

Roncarelli v. Duplessis (1959)

Duplessis, the Premier and Attorney General of Quebec ordered that Roncarelli, a successful restaurant owner and Jehovah’s Witness, have his liquor license revoked, seemingly without reason. Roncarelli sued Duplessis, Duplessis appealed and Roncarelli cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held that the cross-appeal should be maintained and the amount awarded to Roncarelli should be increased by $25,000. It was found that Duplessi acted wrongly, discriminating on the grounds of religion.  

Lamb v. Benoit (1959)

Louise Lamb was arrested in 1946 while distributing pamphlets on the street in Quebec as police believed she was distributing the pamphlet “Quebec’s Burning Hate” which was considered seditious. She then brought an action against the police that had arrested her. The Supreme Court supported her action and assessed the damages at $2500.