Law on secularism: first victory for Quebec

A Superior Court judge on Thursday rejected a request by civil liberties and religious groups to call for the suspension of the state secularism act.
The e Justice Michel Yergeau ruled that the law would continue to apply until a court rules on the merits of the case. Because their ultimate goal is to invalidate this legislation, which was known before it was passed as Bill 21.

The Law on State Secularism, adopted in June in the National Assembly, prohibits state employees in positions of coercive authority, such as judges, police and prison guards, from wearing religious symbols. in the performance of their duties. This prohibition also extends to teachers in the public network.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Ychrak Nurel Hak, a teaching student wearing the hijab, want an immediate judicial stay of the sections of the law that prohibit employees from the public sector from wearing symbols religious at work, but also forcing people to give or receive public services in the open.

They argued that the law caused serious and immediate harm to religious minorities and that its application should be suspended for the duration of the court challenge, which seeks to have the law declared inoperative. They argue that this legislation is contrary to the Canadian Constitution.

Debate before deciding

However, Justice Yergeau’s decision of Thursday found that the plaintiffs failed to show that the law was causing prejudice that would justify such a stay.

The state is presumed to have passed this law – like any other – in the public interest, he said.

“To defeat it in the name of individual interests, no matter how noble the intention behind the process, requires to be decided on merit and not in a preliminary way,” he writes in his 32-page judgment.

“To claim to do so at the application stage of a stay application requires reversing the presumption and demonstrating that the collective interest would be better served by suspending the application of certain provisions of the Act rather than leaving the choice of elected operate”.

And then, analyzing the various testimonies of people who came to explain to the Court how this law will affect them, the judge concludes that “many of them are purely hypothetical and often speculative”, which means that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated, as they were entitled to do, serious or irreparable harm at the interim interlocutory injunction application stage.

For example, Ichrak Nourel Hak says today to feel “the weight of the scornful look of some and their aggressiveness towards it because of the veil it sports”. According to her, the effect of the Act is to legitimize this kind of discriminatory and shocking behavior.

To this, the magistrate retorts that his position, although without doubt sincere, remains largely theoretical and “relates more to the wisdom of the Law than to its effects on his future career”.

Any law that aims to clamp down on a societal debate necessarily entails in its wake its share of new constraints and dissatisfaction, underlines the judge, who is of the opinion that he does not have at this stage to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken by the legislature.

That a beginning

But this is not the end for this law challenge. The plaintiffs will have the opportunity to present their arguments in detail at a trial.

The Caquist government was delighted with the outcome of this first step.

“We are satisfied with the decision of the Superior Court today. It ensures that the Act respecting secularism of the state will continue to apply, “said the office of the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, Simon Jolin-Barrette, by email .

“The Québec government is determined to defend the legitimacy of this law so that it continues to have full effect. A significant and representative majority of Quebeckers supports this law, which puts an end to a debate that has continued in Quebec for more than 11 years, “he continued.

LAITY: MANITOBA WANTS TO RECRUIT QUEBEC EMPLOYEES

WINNIPEG – The Government of Manitoba wants to recruit public sector employees in Quebec who are concerned about the State’s Secularity Act, which prohibits religious symbols in the performance of certain functions.

Even as the Quebec Superior Court dismissed on Thursday a motion by civil liberties groups calling for the suspension of the law, Prime Minister Brian Pallister said Manitoba needed bilingual officials.

Mr. Pallister promised to speak to employees in the Quebec state to assure them that his province did not have a “clothing police”. He indicated that letters would soon be sent to Quebec professional associations as well as CEGEPs and other educational institutions to recruit Quebeckers.

The Law on State Secularism, adopted in June in the National Assembly, prohibits state employees in positions of coercive authority, such as judges, police and prison guards, from wearing religious symbols. in the performance of their duties; this prohibition also extends to teachers in the public network. Opponents say it unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities.

Prime Minister Pallister, seeking re-election in Manitoba on Sept. 10, had already declared his opposition to Quebec law at the summer meeting of provincial and territorial premiers on July 11. Prime Minister François Legault reminded the Council of the Federation that the law is backed by a majority of Quebeckers and that his party respected an election promise.

On Thursday, Justice Michel Yergeau of the Quebec Superior Court stated that the law would continue to apply until a court decides on the merits of the case.

In April, the mayor of Edmundston, Cyrille Simard, invited Quebeckers in his municipality in northwestern New Brunswick “who may encounter obstacles” in certain job categories. Alex LeBlanc, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, recalled that New Brunswick was experiencing a shortage of qualified francophone and bilingual teachers, and that many Quebecers could fill these positions. The Canadian Press

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