Manitoba to join battle if Quebec secularism law goes before SCOC: justice minister

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WINNIPEG – The Manitoba authorities would transfer to join the battle in opposition to Quebec’s law on non secular symbols if it had been to go before the Supreme Court of Canada, says the province’s justice minister.

“It’s a Quebec bill, but it does have broad implications for religious freedom in Canada generally,” Kelvin Goertzen mentioned Monday.

“Any time these cases get to the Supreme Court … they do set precedent and they do often say things that have impacts on other pieces of legislation.”

The Quebec law, generally known as Bill 21, bans public sector employees who’re deemed to be in positions of authority — together with academics, judges and cops — from carrying non secular symbols on the job.

Last 12 months, Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard discovered that the law has merciless and dehumanizing penalties for many who put on non secular symbols. However, he dominated that many of the invoice have to be allowed to stand as a result of Quebec invoked the however clause.

The choose struck down provisions that associated to English-language faculty boards and a ban on members of the provincial legislature carrying face coverings.

Both the Quebec authorities and teams opposing the law have taken the case to the Quebec Court of Appeal. Goertzen mentioned it’s nearly sure to be appealed additional to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti introduced final month that the federal authorities would join in a authorized problem before the excessive court docket.

Goertzen mentioned Manitoba would search intervener standing as nicely to uphold non secular rights underneath the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Progressive Conservative authorities had beforehand mentioned it was contemplating doing that, however Goertzen mentioned Monday he has dedicated to the concept and has instructed the Justice Department to put together.

“While the Charter and other principles of religious freedom talk about state neutrality, what Quebec is looking at isn’t what I would argue to be neutrality,” Goertzen mentioned.

“Neutrality involves the state not promoting one religion over the other. That’s not the same thing as barring or banning religious symbols.”

In 2019, the Manitoba authorities took out newspaper and digital commercials in Quebec to attempt to persuade civil servants there to transfer to Manitoba if they felt threatened by the ban on non secular symbols.

Brian Pallister, premier on the time, additionally wrote letters to Quebec skilled organizations, schools and different entities to invite public-sector employees to transfer west. There was no reported take-up on that provide.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has defended Bill 21 as a official approach to guarantee secularism within the public sector. He has mentioned the law is broadly supported by Quebecers and was handed democratically.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed June 13, 2022.

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