Quebec court decision on Bill 21 poses a conundrum for Justin Trudeau

DM

Seeking re-election In October 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau baited his opponents over their lack of commitment to a court challenge against Bill 21, the controversial Quebec secularism law that bans public servants from wearing religious symbols at work. “I am the only one on this stage who has said yes, a federal government might have to intervene on this,” he said to his political rivals during a debate, “because the federal government needs to protect minority rights, needs to protect language rights.” “It’s awkward politically,” he acknowledged, citing the legislation’s popularity in Quebec. That might be an understatement now. Although the federal Liberals held on to 35 seats in 2019 in the province, the Bloc Québécois nipped at their heels — surging in popularity as they marched in policy lockstep with François Legault’s provincial Coalition Avenir Québec government, including its stance on Bill 21. The Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday upheld most of Bill 21, citing exemptions only for English-language school boards and elected members of the National Assembly.

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