- The Manitoba government would join the case if Quebec’s prohibition on religious symbols went to the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Both the Quebec government and organisations opposed to the measure have taken the disagreement to the Quebec Court of Appeal.
- Manitoba, according to Goertzen, would seek intervener status under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to preserve religious freedoms.
If Quebec’s ban on religious symbols were to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Manitoba government would join the fight, according to the province’s justice minister.
“It’s a Quebec bill, but it has far-reaching repercussions for religious liberty in Canada,” Kelvin Goertzen said on Monday.
“Whenever these cases reach the Supreme Court, they set a precedent, and they frequently say things that have ramifications on other pieces of legislation.”
The Quebec law, known as Bill 21, prohibits public sector professionals from wearing the religious symbol on the job, including teachers, judges, and police officers.
Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard of the Quebec Superior Court decided last year that the statute has cruel and degrading repercussions for persons who wear religious insignia. However, because Quebec claimed the notwithstanding clause, he concluded that the majority of the bill must always be allowed to stand.
Provisions relating to English-language school boards and a restriction on members of the provincial legislature wearing facial coverings were struck down by the judge.
The dispute has been taken to the Quebec Court of Appeal by both the Quebec government and organizations opposed to the bill. According to Goertzen, the case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last month, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti indicated that the federal government would join a legal action in front of the Supreme Court.
Manitoba, according to Goertzen, will seek intervener status to protect religious freedoms under the Charter of Rights as well as Freedoms. Goertzen said Monday that he has committed to the concept and has asked the Justice Department to prepare. The Progressive Conservative government has previously stated that it was considering doing so.
“While the Charter and also other principles of religious freedom speak about governmental neutrality,” Goertzen explained, “what Quebec is looking at isn’t what I would call neutrality.”
“The concept of neutrality refers to the government not favoring one religion over another. That is not the same as prohibiting or prohibiting religious symbols.”
In 2019, the Manitoba govt ran a newspaper and digital ads in Quebec to entice civil officials to relocate to Manitoba if they felt endangered by the religious symbol prohibition.
Premier Brian Pallister issued letters to Quebec professional associations, colleges, and other organizations inviting public-sector professionals to relocate west. That offer was not taken up, according to reports.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault has defended Bill 21 as a valid means to preserve secularism in the public sector. He has stated that the measure has widespread support among Quebecers and was enacted democratically.
Source: CTV News
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