Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, et al.

(Alberta) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Charter of Rights - Constitutional law - Freedom of religion - Right to equality - Whether section 3 of Alberta Regulation 137/2003 is an unjustified infringement of ss. 2(a) and 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - In the affirmative, whether the infringement is saved by s. 1 of the Charter - Alberta Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Amendment Regulation, Alta. Reg. 137/2003, s. 3.

Alberta began issuing drivers’ licences with photos in 1974. Until 2003, however, an exception to the photo requirement was made available under the Alberta Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation, Alta. Reg. 320/2002 to people who objected on religious grounds. Such individuals were able to seek a non-photo licence called a Condition Code G licence. In 2003, the Alberta government passed the Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Amendment Regulation, Alta. Reg. 137/2003, amending the original Regulation, thus implementing a mandatory photo requirement for all drivers’ licences. At the time of the change, there were 453 Condition Code G licences in Alberta. Fifty-six per cent of these licences were held by the Respondents and members of other Hutterian Brethren colonies. The Respondents sincerely believe that the Second Commandment prohibits them from having their photograph willingly taken. A number of the members have Condition Code G licences; however, with the amended Regulation in effect, the individuals currently holding these licences would be required to have their photograph taken upon renewal of their licences, resulting in a breach of their religious beliefs. The Respondents challenged the new Regulation on the grounds that it breached their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court of Queen’s Bench held that the amended Regulation infringed the Respondents Charter rights and could not be saved by section 1 of the Charter. The Court of Appeal of Alberta, with Slatter J. dissenting, affirmed the trial decision.

Lower Court Rulings

May 8, 2006
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

0506 00817, 2006 ABQB 338
See file
May 17, 2007
Court of Appeal of Alberta (Calgary)

0601-0134-AC, 2007 ABCA 160
See file