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Political leaders silent over Bill C-21 and whether the government needs to intervene

Bill C-21, a controversial secularism law now being applied in Quebec which prevents many government employees from wearing religious symbols has been causing increased controversy and calls for the federal government to intervene.

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Dylan Gibbons Montreal, QC

Bill C-21, a controversial secularism law now being applied in Quebec which prevents many government employees from wearing religious symbols has been causing increased controversy and calls for the federal government to intervene.

Specifically, the law is currently being challenged in court by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and university student Ichrak Nourel Hak, who wears a hijab. Critics of the law say that it compromises guaranteed rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

However, due to many Quebec citizens, as well as the Legault provincial government supporting the new law, many politicians have refused to give a firm answer on whether they will intervene, especially given the approaching election.

Both Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer said they would block any attempt to implement the law on a federal level, but neither were willing to confirm whether they would intervene in Quebec’s politics.

Trudeau said on Thursday that he was looking into whether the federal government needs to intervene.

“We are not closing the door to a possible intervention because it would be irresponsible for a federal government to choose to shut the door on a matter of fundamental rights,” he said following questions during a campaign stop in Trois-Rivieres, Que.

Francois Legault has been firm in defending the bill, saying that is not his decision but the decision of Quebecers and that any attempt to intervene would prevent Quebec’s citizens from exercising their own legislative decisions.

Legault also warned every federal leader to butt out of Quebec’s decisions on the issue.

“I am asking all federal parties to make sure and re-assure the population of Quebec that they won’t participate in any suit against Bill 21,” Legault told reporters as he emerged from a meeting of the Quebec cabinet.

“I want them to stay out of it — forever. Not for the moment, but forever.”

It’s clear where Legault stands on the issue, but not so clear what any of the frontrunners in the election will do or not do if elected.

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