Expert: Quebec court upholds most of province’s secularism law

Published: 21 April 2021

Quebec’s secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge ruled on Tuesday, April 20, even as he acknowledged it violates the rights of Muslim women and has cruel and dehumanizing consequences for those who wear religious symbols. Justice Marc-André Blanchard upheld the bulk of the religious symbols law, while striking down clauses pertaining to English-language school boards and a ban on members of the provincial legislature wearing face coverings. (Global News)

Here is an expert from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Pearl Eliadis, Affiliated Member, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law

The Court’s decision is a restrained and detailed analysis of the legal conventions in Canada’s constitutional structure. Although the court clearly felt that it was constrained by the use of the notwithstanding clause and rejected some of the novel arguments made by lawyers seeking to circumvent it, it did uphold the fundamental rights of minority linguistic communities and those of elected members to the National Assembly under the Canadian Charter. It is not a surprise that the Quebec government immediately indicated that it would appeal the decision.

Pearl Eliadis is an Affiliated Member at the Max Bell School of Public Policy, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law. A senior lawyer in private practice and with more than two decades of public policy experience in federal and provincial governments, she has led successfully complex, global projects dealing with national institutions, evaluation, and human rights, with in-country missions to China, Ethiopia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste.

pearl.eliadis [at] (English, French)

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