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Canada

Bill 21 appeal sparks debate over inconsistent Charter of Rights

Competing sections of the Federal Charter will be scrutinized on the second day of hearings in Montreal.

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While working on the validity of Bill 21, the Quebec Court of Appeal must decide on the inconsistency of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Quebec’s religious symbol law relies on Article 33 (but clause) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which suspends religious liberty in relation to the wearing of religious symbols. Bill 21 prohibits some state officials, such as judges, police officers and teachers, from wearing such symbols in Quebec.

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But the ban violates the constitutional guarantee of gender equality, which cannot be overturned by the article nonetheless, lawyers for the group opposing the law argued in court on Tuesday.

Article 33 provides that legislatures may exempt certain sections of the Charter from application, in particular Article 15, which prohibits all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex.

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But the article nevertheless cannot circumvent Article 28 of the Charter, which states that the rights and freedoms of the Charter “shall be equally guaranteed to persons of both sexes.”

The debate was started by Peri Lavon, representing the Montreal School Board, UK. She argued that Bill 21 “unfairly penalizes Muslim women in exercising their religious freedom.”

Ravon said Freedom of Information requests from about 300 public agencies show that the restrictions imposed by Bill 21 only affect Muslim women.

“Who is out of a job as a result of Bill 21? Whose religious symbol is getting negative attention? It’s the hijab every time,” she told the court.

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Rep. Ravon said legislators “deliberately chose to exempt Section 28 from the application of (Section) 33” to ensure that women’s rights are protected.

Julius Gray, who represents Canada’s Commission on Rights and Freedoms, acknowledged that Bill 21 “does not limit the right to practice a religion or go to church.” However, he clarifies that if this right exists, “it is restricted, and it has been restricted unequally between men and women, and that is precisely the 28 cases[as defined by the section].” did.

Véronique Roy, representing the Fédération des femmes du Québec, pointed out that the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal had ruled that Section 28 exists to make sex discrimination protected by Section 15 unconstitutional.

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“We see (Section) 28 as a bulwark against violations of Section 15 in terms of gender equality,” she said.

Amélie Pelletier-Desrosiers, who represents the Attorney General of Quebec, has repeatedly argued that Article 28 has no independent force.

“Article 33 expressly permits deviations from Article 15,” she said, despite Article 28.

In April 2021, a Quebec High Court judge ruled that guarantees of gender equality alone cannot overrule the law because it supported most of Bill 21.

Pelletier-Desrosiers also claimed that its opponents failed to produce statistics to support certain claims of discrimination against women.

She said women make up 88% of primary school teachers and 65% of secondary school teachers, so it’s no surprise that women are more affected.

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Christiane Pelchat, representing Pour les droits des femmes du Québec, raised another argument.

“Religions, including Islam and even Catholicism and Judaism, are patriarchal-based religions and therefore sexist in their own right,” Perchat said.

But she added that Bill 21 is not discriminatory.

“Do men and women have the same rights protected by (section) 15? Yes, because they are both prohibited from wearing religious symbols,” she said. rice field.

Earlier in the day, the parties debated fundamental rights, with discussions initiated by Luc Allary, who represents Quebec’s Like movement.

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Since 2008, Alarie said, “There are educational systems that require teachers to make reservations about religious matters, including not revealing their beliefs and beliefs.”

He said the court has already ruled on the state.

In response, Molly Krishtalka, who represents three teachers (two Muslims and one Catholic challenging Bill 21), said, “Neutrality is about the state, not the individual employed. and its institutions.”

Kristalka said secular movements make mistakes when they assume that “a teacher wearing a cross or hijab signifies that the organization or state supports the religion in question.”

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“It is not the action of each individual to commit the state to a religious position,” she argued.

“There will be problems if the school board requires teachers to wear crosses or if teachers require students to stand and recite Ave Maria at the beginning of class,” Kristalka said. .

Linguistic Minority Rights

On Tuesday afternoon, the court moved to discuss the rights of linguistic minorities. In this case, the Quebec government is appealing a portion of the Superior Court’s ruling finding that the ban on religious symbols violates the rights of the English Language Education Commission. Notwithstanding, it cannot be overridden by the terms.

Manuel Klein, an attorney for the Quebec government, said the court’s reasoning was flawed. I was. “If we conclude that Section 23 protects so-called cultural expressions, values, and political opinions regardless of language, then Bill 21 does not prevent us from promoting or valuing cultural and religious diversity. I will submit it to you.”

“Educational experience should be on par with the experience of the majority,” said Klein.

Hearings, which began Monday, are expected to last 10 days.

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Bill 21 appeal sparks debate over inconsistent Charter of Rights

Source link Bill 21 appeal sparks debate over inconsistent Charter of Rights

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