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Quebec denounces the challenge to Law 21 “with public funds”

Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press Simon Jolin-Barrette warns Ottawa: “Mind your own business.”

The Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, questions the use of public funds by the English Montreal School Board to challenge the State Secularism Act in the Supreme Court. In Ottawa, which intends to support groups opposed to the law, he issues a warning: “Mind your own business.”

“We have a consensual law in Quebec which was validated by three judges of the Quebec Court of Appeal, and the Quebec government will defend it to the end,” thundered the minister, Thursday morning, after learning that the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) would appeal the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal on “Bill 21”.

In the press scrum, a few moments before question period, the CAQ elected official said he was perplexed that the CSEM, a public organization, was continuing its fight in court. “There is always a question regarding the use of public funds, as is also the case for the contestation of law 96 […] on the official language of the municipalities of Quebec,” he said. .

“The question is also the sources of financing,” he added. Asked to clarify his thoughts on this subject, he indicated that “the federal government has certain programs that fund certain remedies.”

During its challenge to the law in 2020, the EMSB received funding from the Court Challenges Program (PCJ), a federally funded program of the University of Ottawa. She ultimately decided not to use these funds.

Asked about the minister's comments on Thursday, the president of the EMSB, Joe Ortona, defended the practices of his organization.

“It is completely normal in Quebec democracy to turn to the courts for any thorny issue which is of national importance and which is not unanimous, and this is what the School Board English-Montreal does,” he noted. “We achieved a landslide victory to invalidate Law 40 [school governance reform], and the government decided to appeal. This, too, is done with public funds. »

“Mind your own business”

Mr. Jolin-Barrette deplores the fact that the federal government is interfering in the matter of the law on religious neutrality, for example by promising to support groups, such as the CSEM, which will appeal the decision of the court of second instance.

“I invite the federal government to mind its own business. This is a Quebec issue. This is an issue that was resolved in the National Assembly of Quebec, and [Justin] Trudeau's government should have more respect for Quebecers,” he insisted on Thursday.< /p>

The CAQ minister urges the federal government to respect “the choices of Quebec society.” “It is not the federal government that is going to impose on Quebecers how to live in matters of religion,” he said.

In February, the Quebec Court of Appeal rendered a judgment which upheld the law on religious neutrality in its entirety. The decision also reversed that of the Superior Court of Quebec, which ruled in 2021 that teachers in English-speaking school boards did not have the obligation to comply with the ban on the wearing of religious symbols in class.

The EMSB has officially announced its intentions to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for a review of this judgment. “Bill 21 goes against our values ​​and our mission, and those of all Quebecers, expressed in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms,” noted Mr. Ortona, Wednesday.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116