Tag Archive for: Bill 21

TWO APPROACHES TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN CANADA

The Quebec Court of Appeal rendered judgement in March on an Act respecting the laicity of the State, commonly referred to as Bill 21. The complexity of the case before the Court cannot be overstated. Opponents of Bill 21 did a thorough job in challenging the legislation, but with one exception – the right of elected members of the National Assembly to wear religious symbols – none of the arguments succeeded.

The purpose of Bill 21 is reflected in the Act’s preamble, “to determine the principles according to which and manner in which relations between the State and religions are to be governed in Québec.”

This is an extraordinary statement by the National Assembly.  Constitutionalists will argue that these principles are enshrined in the fundamental freedoms enumerated in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the attending jurisprudence handed down over the years by the Supreme Court of Canada.  Others will argue, again in the words of the Act’s preamble, that “the Québec nation has its own characteristics, one of which is its civil law tradition, distinct social values and a specific history that have led it to develop a particular attachment to State laicity.”

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Minority groups in Quebec should be concerned after Bill 21 ruling, says anglo group

“All minorities should be worried about the ruling” on Bill 21 released Thursday afternoon by the Quebec Court of Appeal, Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), tells CTV. She adds that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent: “It means that the government can pass any bill, like Bill 96, that ignores our fundamental human rights without fear that the courts can overturn them.”

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QCGN profoundly disappointed by Quebec Court of Appeal’s ruling on Bill 21

Montreal, February 29, 2024 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is profoundly disappointed by today’s ruling on Bill 21 by the Quebec Court of Appeal. Unfortunately, the justices’ hands were tied by the Quebec Government’s use of the notwithstanding clauses of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Bill 21 prohibits employees in positions of authority (like teachers, judges, and police officers) from wearing or displaying symbols of their religion, like hijabs, kippahs, turbans or ostentatious crucifixes while at work.

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Quebec groups speak out against bill protecting secularism law

“We would look to the federal government to intervene or express their concern about allowing the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause by provinces,” says Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN). The QCGN was responding to Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s minister responsible for secularism, after he tabled Bill 52 — legislation to extend the use of the notwithstanding clause for another five years to shield Bill 21, Quebec’s secularism law, from court challenges over violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

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Renewal of notwithstanding clause needed to protect social peace, CAQ says

Premier François Legault says that renewing the notwithstanding clause to protect Bill 21 would maintain the “social peace” that he says the secularist law has created. The Quebec Community Groups Network is among those who have called the renewal of such a clause an affront to fundamental freedoms.

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Quebec AM with Peter Tardif

Bill 21 “has created more division (in Quebec society), taken away rights from minorities,” Eva Ludvig, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), emphasizes during an interview this morning with host Peter Tardif on CBC’s Quebec AM. She explains the legal context.

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Legault government intends to renew notwithstanding clause on Bill 21

“Bill 21 is a discriminatory law that is an affront to the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion of Quebecers,” Eva Ludvig, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), responds after the Quebec government serves notice that it plans to extend its law on state secularism for a further five years. “Citizens in a democracy must have the ability to seek relief from the courts when their rights and freedoms have been infringed or denied,” Ludvig adds: “Invoking the notwithstanding clause blocks this possibility.”

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APPELLATE COURT HEARS CHALLENGES TO BILL 21

Over the past two weeks the Quebec Court of Appeal heard a series of arguments in defence and in contestation of Quebec’s secularism legislation: An Act respecting the laicity of the state (Bill 21). The bill, which passed into law in June 2019, was challenged before the Superior Court of Quebec in April 2021.

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Bill 21 appeal: English school board says law is ‘affront’ to values of Quebec anglos

English-language school boards must remain exempted from Bill 21, the Quebec Court of Appeal hears. “It is not up to the majority to dictate the definition of the culture of the minority,” says veteran human rights lawyer Julius Grey, who is representing the QCGN.

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WHAT IS PARLIAMENTARY SOVEREIGNTY?

Quebec’s Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec would add the following paragraph to the preamble of the Charter of the French Language:

“Whereas, in accordance with parliamentary sovereignty, it is incumbent on the Parliament of Québec to confirm the status of French as the official language and the common language and to enshrine the paramountcy of that status in Québec’s legal order, while ensuring a balance between the collective rights of the Québec nation and human rights and freedoms.”

In addition, the following was included in the preamble to Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State:

“AS, in accordance with the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, it is incumbent on the Parliament of Québec to determine the principles according to which and manner in which relations between the State and religions are to be governed in Québec.”

Parliamentary supremacy – although it’s referred to as sovereignty in both the preambles above – represents a core element of United Kingdom constitutional law. This is a principle to provide the legislative branch of government, Parliament, with the ultimate legal authority to create (or repeal) any law. In theory, British courts cannot overturn or change laws passed by Parliament. This is because the power to make laws is vested with the elected House of Commons, with the House of Lords reviewing legislation. British courts doled out the monarch’s (the executive branch of government) justice. In a nutshell, if the courts could overturn laws passed by the legislative branch, the monarch would be able to make an end-run and be empowered to thwart the will of the House of Commons. This system was carefully built on a series of compromises following the English civil wars of the 17th Century…

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