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Politics House of Commons Speaker has no plans to do away with daily prayer

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer is best-suited to arrange a third-party review. Mr. Scheer deferred to the Liberals and NDP, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Wednesday his preference was for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Trudeau and himself to find a way forward.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

MPs who want to end or modify the practice of prayer recital in the Commons must propose the changes themselves, says a spokeswoman for the Speaker.

The New Democratic Party asked Speaker Andrew Scheer to research Commons rules and decide who had the authority to end the daily prayer.

The NDP's request followed a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the reading of a Catholic prayer at town council meetings in a Quebec city infringes on freedom of conscience and religion.

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Certain federal politicians such as Green party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Francoise Boivin said the prayer should be amended to remove references to God.

Some Conservative MPs said they wanted to maintain the tradition.

Heather Bradley, a spokeswoman for Scheer, said in an email Wednesday "the practice of the prayer is provided for in the standing orders of the House. The Speaker has no intention of changing this."

Bradley also noted the prayer has been part of daily proceedings in the Commons since 1877 and that standing orders can be amended with a simple majority vote by MPs.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair wouldn't speak directly about the daily prayer question, but said he "always liked the system in Quebec's national assembly, where members are given a moment of contemplation" that offers those who want to pray the opportunity to do so.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said it is "important" to have a "moment of solemn reflection."

But "it has to be done in a way that respects everyone," he said.

The text of the daily prayer was modified in 1994 to reflect the fact many different religions are practised in Canada.

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