Group ready to take Bill 21 to Supreme Court


After Quebec’s Court of Appeal rejected a bid to suspend Bill 21 by a civil rights group, the group said they were ready to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The group includes the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). They are asking the highest court in Canada to hear their case as swiftly as possible.

The group asked the Appeal Court for an injunction to suspend certain controversial elements of Bill 21 while the Quebec Superior Court examines whether the law itself is considered unconstitutional. The legal challenge was filed on behalf of plaintiff Ichrak Nourel Hak, who wears a hijab and is doing her studies at Universite de Montreal to become a teacher. Bill 21 would not allow her to teach in a Quebec public school while wearing a hijab, as it is considered a ‘religious symbol’ under the law and not allowed. In their arguments before the court, the group said that ‘the law violates Charter sexual-equality guarantees that are not shielded by the notwithstanding clause’.

Although the three judges maintained that ‘the law is causing certain people irreparable harm’, two of them said that their ‘hands were tied’ by the government’s use of the notwithstanding clause, preventing the group from challenging Bill 21 for violating parts of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. One judge, Chief Justice Nicole Duval Hesler, was the only one who ruled in favour of suspending the section of the law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols at work.

The NCCM and the CCLA called the the decision ‘disappointing’ and ‘devastating’. The group said they will be looking at their options and will continue their fight against it. David Lametti, Canada’s Minister of Justice, said the Federal government will be following the trial closely.

By: Bonnie Wurst – [email protected]

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