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Justice Minister David Lametti did not rule out contesting Quebec’s new secularism law prohibiting public servants in authority positions from wearing religious symbols on the job.
“I did not say yes or no. We will look—we will study the law and we will look,” Lametti told reporters today in Ottawa of next steps for his government regarding Bill 21.
“We’ve been clear from the outset that we don’t believe it’s up to a government to tell people what they should wear or what they shouldn’t wear…We’re the Party of the Charter and we’re going to defend it.”
But the Justice minister would not say how possible involvement might unfold; as a standalone constitutional challenge or as intervenor in lawsuit filed by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“We will look carefully at the arguments that have been put forward,” he said of the group’s joint legal challenge filed Monday, less than 24 hours after Québec’s National Assembly passed the law over the weekend.
At around 10:30pm Sunday evening, Premier Francois Legault’s majority government forced closure on Bill 21 debate and with Parti Québecois support, the legislation passed in 73 to 35 vote. Québec Solitaire and provincial Liberals voted against the new law.
The most senior Quebec MP in the federal Conservatives’ camp to comment on this contentious new provincial legislation was Gérard Deltell, who expressed a “hands off” view and said the province could use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause.
“(Bill 21)’s not a point of view we share. That said, we are in a democracy. People oppose it, they can say it clearly and that’s the beauty of it,” Deltell said.
“In our view, it concerns the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec. In the charter, in the constitution, it is marked and enshrined that (provinces) can use the notwithstanding clause.”