Author ORCID Identifier

Rabiat Akande: 0000-0001-7536-4018

Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

(2023) 108 SCLR (2d) 191 - 212


In Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada St. Mary Cathedral v. Aga, the Supreme Court of Canada undertook to grapple with the question of whether, when, and to what extent courts should get involved in the internal decisions of religious groups where there are allegations of procedural unfairness. This paper approaches Aga with an interest in the issue of state regulation of religion through law. The paper (1) reviews and assesses the Court's judgment; (2) summarizes and analyzes the 12 intervener submissions, many of which were made by religious groups likely to be affected by the Court's eventual judgment; and (3) outlines some conclusions that interpret Aga in light of the intervener submissions and the Court's lead precedent on point, Wall. The paper argues that Wall's tenuous suppression of public law in the internal matters of religious organizations is affyrmed and advanced in Aga. For all the Court's insistence that the "private law" construction of religious associations does not completely insulate religious groups from judicial oversight, there appears to be no place for public and constitutional law in setting norms for how religious groups should treat their members, including whether and how they offer avenues for grievances and redress.

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