Cities Across Canada Stand Up Against Quebec's Bill 21Written by Making Headlines
In June 2019, Simon Jolin-Barette, Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness, introduced Bill 21, which forbids public employees, including teachers, police officers, and prosecutors, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs, kippahs, or turbans.
Recently, the Government of Ontario passed motions put forth by the Liberal Party of Ontario and the New Democratic Party of Ontario to condemn and demand the withdrawal of the province of Quebec's Bill 21. Ontario is following the lead of several municipalities across Canada that have formally condemned the bill.
Although these condemnations don't carry any legal weight against Quebec, they do help to reassure community members in these regions that similar laws will not be passed locally.
The following are cities that have officially condemned Bill 21:
In late June 2019, Brampton City Council, in the province of Ontario, voted unanimously to support, in principle, any legal challenge against Quebec's Bill 21. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown stated "Brampton is Canada's most diverse big city. And if Brampton's not going to defend Canadian multiculturalism, then who is?". Brampton City Council also agreed to advertise firefighting and emergency service job opportunities in Quebec. This is following the lead of the Peel Police Service Board who passed a unanimous motion to launch a recruiting campaign in Quebec.
In July 2019, Victoria City Council, in the province of British Columbia, voted unanimously to support, in principle, the legal challenge against Quebec's Bill 21 launched by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The motion was put forward by City Councillor Sharmarke Dubow who in an interview with Bill Cleverley from the Times Colonist, stated ""Bill 21 is a local fight because an attack on the Constitution in one part of Canada is an attack on the Constitution in any part of Canada. It’s important that all Canadians stand up for the Constitution and that all residents of the city of Victoria stand up for their constitutional rights."
In late August 2019, City Councillor Margaret Johnston introduced a motion to Kitchener City Council, in the province of Ontario, asking it to formally opposed Quebec's Bill. Members of the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo made a presentation to city council before their vote. The motion was passed unanimously.
In September 2019, Waterloo City Council, in the province of Ontario, voted to oppose Quebec's Bill 21 and reaffirm Waterloo's commitment to religious freedom. Members of the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo made a presentation to city council before their vote. Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky stated in opposition to Bill 21 that "From an employment standpoint, government should be open to anyone."
In late September 2019, City Councillor George Chahal introduced a motion to Calgary City Council, in the province of Alberta, asking it to formally oppose Quebec's Bill 21. The motion was passed unanimously. While presenting the motion, Councillor Chahal stated “I have a direct understanding of its impact.My father wears a turban, as his father did…They immigrated to Canada and were victims of racial abuse. In 1991, my father was asked to remove his turban or use the back door when entering the Red Deer branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for a private event, a moment that not only galvanized Canadians in his support, but also brought forth racial abuse.” Calgary City Councillor Jyoti Gondek proposed an addition to the motion asking the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination to create a nationwide initiative that addresses the harms of Bill 21 and its impact to the unity, reputation and well-being of Canada. This addition was also passed. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi stated that Quebec's Bill 21 is "a remarkable encroachment by a provincial government on municipal rights".
In late October 2019, City Councillor Scott McKeen introduced a motion to Edmonton City Council, in the province of Alberta, condemning Quebec's Bill 21 and supporting, in principal, any legal challenges brought against the Quebec government opposing the bill. In an interview with Jeff Labine from the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton City Councillor Aaron Paquette explained his support for the motion by stating, "A lot of things are legal (but it) doesn’t mean they are good. Being Indigenous, my family has definitely been affected and understands what (the impacts) a discriminatory law can have. For a city like Edmonton to say something like this may have absolutely no impact on the law but it does have an impact on how people think about these things."
In late October 2019, City Councillors Shawn Nason and Janice Lukes introduced a motion to Winnipeg City Council, in the province of Manitoba, asking it to publicly oppose Quebec's Bill 21. They called the bill "divisive law that perpetuates exclusion, discrimination, and class division by increasing systematic barriers to employment for religious groups". The motion also called on the council to support, in principal, the constitutional challenges various organizations have initiated against the Quebec government because of its implementation of this bill. Their motion was passed unanimously.
In October 2019, Brampton City Councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon introduced a motion to the Peel Regional Council, which governs the Ontario cities of Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon, asking the Peel Regional Council to formerly condemn Quebec's Bill 21. The motion was passed.
On October 23, 2019, City Councillor Carolyn Parrish introduced a motion to Mississauga City Council, in the province of Ontario, asking to formally condemn the bill; the motion was seconded by City Councillor Chris Fonseca. Mississauga City Council passed the motion which also supported, in principle, the legal challenge against Quebec's Bill 21 on the grounds of freedom of religion. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie stated "I’m proud today that Mississauga Council took a stand against discrimination and division by passing a motion in opposition to Bill 21."
In late October, City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam introduced a motion to Toronto City Council condemning Quebec's Bill 21. The motion was seconded by Councillor Josh Matlow. Toronto City Council voted unanimously to pass this motion. This motion also encouraged the Federal government to unequivocally condemn and challenge Quebec's Bill 21 and asks that the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination "create a nationwide campaign that highlights the harmful widespread impacts of Bill 21 on social cohesion and inclusion in Canada."
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