Supreme Court asked to reconsider Quebec National Assembly kirpan ban
A Sikh man and woman who were barred from entering Quebec’s legislature while wearing kirpans have filed a motion for reconsideration after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear their appeal.
The move comes after the high court upheld previous decisions from both Quebec Superior Court and Quebec Court of Appeal that found the province’s National Assembly had the right to establish its own rules.
In its ruling issued in late October, the high court did not provide a reason for its refusal to hear the case.
In January 2011, World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) members Balpreet Singh and Harminder Kaur did not want to remove their articles of faith as they headed into a legislative hearing to submit a brief.
Singh and Kaur said the legislature’s ban on the ceremonial daggers carried by Sikhs was unconstitutional before changing their position to say it was legal but non-binding.
Superior Court Justice Pierre Journet rejected their arguments in 2015, affirming the authority of the legislature to exclude kirpans from its precincts as an assertion of parliamentary privilege. In February 2018, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the decision.
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In a statement released on Wednesday, the WSO said two circumstances warrant the high court’s reconsideration — the election of a Coalition Avenir Québec government and a recent court ruling which provided a new framework for parliamentary privilege.
The organization claims the new government has advocated for legislation that will “disproportionately affect religious minorities.”
The CAQ government has said it plans to bar certain civil servants in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious symbols at work.
— With files from Global’s Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press
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