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Roberge “insulted” by the remarks of the League of Rights and Freedoms on Law 21

Photo: Karoline Boucher The Canadian Press The Minister responsible for Secularism, Jean-François Roberge, proposed last February to protect the Law on State Secularism for another five years.

Affirming as the League of Rights and Freedoms did on Tuesday that “Law 21” on religious neutrality is “racist”, “sexist” and “discriminatory”, constitutes an “insult” towards 'Quebec State, according to the Minister responsible for Secularism, Jean-François Roberge.

The elected representative of the Coalition Avenir Québec made a formal outing against the organization for the defense of rights and freedoms, Tuesday afternoon, during the special consultations surrounding his bill 52. This provides for the renewal for five years of the use of the derogation provision in the Law on State Secularism.

In a brief submitted to the committee, the League asserts that by renewing the exemption, the government “prolongs the existence of a racist, sexist, discriminatory law with serious consequences for Quebec society in its together “. She calls for the complete withdrawal of bill 52.

“It’s shocking,” replied Minister Roberge on Tuesday. “These are accusations that are serious, it’s unacceptable, it’s insulting. »

The minister, who had 16 minutes to ask questions, only used six minutes of his time, without letting his counterparts respond. He deplored an attack on “the people who worked on this law, [on] the experts who came before […], who defend it and who recognize its value, who are capable of debating, of criticizing, of 'oppose, but without lending intentions like that.'

“It’s not something I could pass up. You expressed yourself in your opening remarks. You will have the chance to do it with the opposition [parties]. I have no questions,” thundered Mr. Roberge, before handing over to Quebec Liberal Party MP André A. Morin.

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Refusal to debate

Contacted after her appearance in committee on Tuesday evening, the coordinator and spokesperson of the LDL, Laurence Guénette, deplored the reaction of Mr. Roberge. “On the one hand, these consultations are an opportunity to have debates. Obviously, Mr. Roberge made the decision not to hear us elaborate further,” she emphasized in an interview with Le Devoir. “It surprised us. »

Bill 21, she recalled, had been “maligned” by a variety of groups at the time of its adoption for “its discriminatory nature.” “In fact, even if it is intended to be a law that imposes the same obligations on everyone in Quebec regarding the wearing of religious symbols, it creates discrimination, particularly against racialized people and particularly against women who wear the hijab or other types of scarves,” she pleaded.

Ms. Guénette reiterates that the opinion of the League has not changed. “Even the quote he read, it’s from five years ago,” she said.

In February, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the State Secularism Act in its entirety, ruling in favor of the Legault government in its intentions to impose the removal of religious symbols even in English-speaking school boards. Called upon to rule on the derogation provision, the court of second instance affirmed that Quebec had all the rights to use it.

“The debate on the advisability of including a derogation provision in a charter of rights and freedoms has already taken place, on the basis of the same arguments, and it has been closed since 1982 in the case of the Canadian Charter and since 1975 (then 1982) in the case of the Quebec Charter. […] It is not up to the courts to plug the loopholes, if any, of a constitutional (or legislative) choice that some consider ill-advised,” we could read in the judgment.

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