Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Law 21: the use of the notwithstanding clause soonô t renewed

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The Law on State Secularism has been the subject of significant debate in Quebec and Canada for several years. (Archive photo)

  • Jérôme Labbé (View profile)Jérôme Labbé

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Minister Jean-François Roberge will table a bill in the National Assembly on Thursday to protect the Law on State Secularism for five years more.

The news, first revealed by the Journal de Montréal, was confirmed Wednesday morning by the office of Minister Roberge, who is notably responsible for the issue of Secularism in government.

The bill that will be tabled will aim to renew the use of the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution – also called the notwithstanding clause or clause – in order to protect from the courts certain aspects of the Law on State Secularism, better known as “Law 21”.

This provision was invoked when the law was adopted in 2019.

It aimed in particular to protect the flagship measure of the legislative document, which prohibits state officers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols ostentatious like the Muslim veil, the Jewish kippah, the Sikh turban and Christian crosses.

Minister Roberge's bill could benefit from the support of the Parti Québécois (PQ) and Québec solidaire (QS), according to comments made Wednesday morning by elected officials from the two political parties.

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The PQ supports the law in substance. QS, for its part, opposes the ban on the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols for state officers in positions of authority provided for in the law, while considering that it This should not be called into question under the Canadian Constitution, which Quebec has never signed.

Bill 21 must be subject to the Quebec charter, argued the party's parliamentary leader, Alexandre Leduc, on Wednesday morning in a press scrum. It is this, the Quebec charter, which is the cement of rights and freedoms in Quebec.

Mr. Leduc, however, clarified that he wanted to read the bill before confirming whether his party will vote for or against when the time comes.

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The parliamentary leader of QS, Alexandre Leduc, reiterated his party's position Wednesday morning in the National Assembly, according to which the Law on State Secularism, which is questionable, should not be examined by the courts by the lens of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Archive photo)

The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) reiterated Wednesday morning that it will oppose to the renewal of the use of the derogation provision of the Canadian Constitution to shield the State Secularism Act against legal proceedings.

We will be consistent, assured MP Madwa-Nika Cadet at a press briefing. Everything we said about Bill 21, before the election, during the election and after the election, remains the same: we will not support the renewal of the notwithstanding clause.

This position, in line with that established by ex-chief Dominique Anglade, contrasts however with that of Denis Coderre: for the moment considered the favorite in the leadership race which will take place in 2025. #x27;ex-mayor of Montreal made it known last week that he would not touch “Bill 21” in the event of victory.

The tabling of Minister Roberge's bill comes while awaiting an important judgment from the Quebec Court of Appeal on the constitutionality of the Law on State Secularism . The case was put under advisement a year and a half ago now. It could then make its way to the Supreme Court.

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