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.
Tag Archive for: Bill 21
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.
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…
MONTREAL, April 20, 2021 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes today’s Superior Court ruling which declares that Quebec’s secularism law – An Act Respecting the laicity of the State – violates Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms regarding minority education rights.
In a landmark ruling for Quebec’s English-speaking community, Justice Marc-André Blanchard declares the legislation does not apply to English school boards and their personnel. Pending an appeal by the government of Quebec, the decision applies to all English school boards in the province and will eventually have an impact for all official language minority school boards across Canada.
Quebec competes in an open North American market where businesses have choices. Legislating against minorities isn’t a great calling card.
Recently, Premier François Legault criticized Montreal for hiring Bochra Manaï as an anti-discrimination officer, because she opposed a discriminatory law, Bill 21. Someone tasked with fighting discrimination, who fights discrimination? Unacceptable!
It’s been a couple of long years on the human rights front here in La Belle Province, with religious minorities bearing the brunt of recent debates.
The Montreal Gazette’s political reporter Philip Authier reflects on key moments that have marked the Coalition Avenir Québec’s first year in power. There have been a series of initiatives, most notably the plan to abolish school boards and the implementation of Bill 21, have concerned the community at large commented QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.