Cities Should Take On Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown’s Challenge To Oppose Bill 21
Finally, a certain political leadership in the fight against Bill 21, the deleterious Quebec law which prohibits people wearing religious symbols such as the hijab and the turban from accessing various jobs in public institutions.
It certainly does not come from Ottawa, where the main party leaders were more concerned with avoiding offending Quebec voters than defending fundamental human rights. And that doesn’t come from the provincial level either.
It has been left to city politician, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, to step up and launch a campaign to help fund a crucial legal challenge to Bill 21.
Brown is calling on mayors and cities across the country, 100 in total, to join his city in ensuring the court challenge is fully funded.
In the absence of clear action from the upper levels of government, these cities should come together and do what they can to push back against the Quebec law.
It’s not just a local, Quebec problem. Bill 21 is the most egregious example of a Canadian law, at least in recent years, which flouts the rights of religious and, in some cases, racial minorities in the name of preserving the “secular” quality of society. the state.
The bill became law two years ago, but the debate over it was reignited by the case of Fatemeh Anvari, the 27-year-old teacher who was abruptly kicked out of her grade 3 class in the community of Chelsea, in western Quebec, simply because she wears a hijab.
The law was discriminatory from the start; even a Quebec judge agreed with this, even if he reluctantly declared it constitutional because the provincial government invoked the so-called “notwithstanding” clause as a preventive measure to protect it against a challenge under the Charter of rights and freedoms.
But it was all a bit abstract until Anvari was forced to quit her class. Now we can see what kind of impact Bill 21 can have on a popular young teacher whose own community has rallied to her.
Mayor Brown, who runs Canada’s most diverse large city, points out the chilling implications in a letter to mayors: “Jewish women who wear wigs, Sikh men who wear turbans, Christians who wear crosses are all at risk. to be victims of this non-Canadian law, which violates the fundamental rights of Canadians by discriminating against their religious freedom.
He reminds them that this country has discriminated against Sikhs, Jews, Japanese and Italians, among others, on several occasions. Do we really want to stand idly by while the rights of Muslims and others are violated? “Bill 21 is the type of law,” he wrote, “for which future prime ministers will apologize and taxpayers will again be forced to be compensated.
These minorities, Muslims and Sikhs in particular, should not be left to finance the legal fight against Bill 21 on their own. It will cost about $ 3 million to get to the Supreme Court, and Brown is calling cities to close a funding gap of $ 1.9 million. They should take up this challenge.
Brown maintains that this does not only concern Quebec. If the Supreme Court ultimately upholds Bill 21, he points out, populist prime ministers elsewhere might feel empowered to violate minority rights if they believe it is to their political advantage in the future.
This is not the kind of Canada we want to live in. It violates the most fundamental values of Canadian society, as expressed in the Charter of Rights. Politicians at other levels have failed and cities should unite and resist an unjust law.