The Coalition Avenir Québec government plans to invoke closure at the province’s National Assembly in a bid to pass two controversial bills before the summer.
Government House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette announced the measure Friday morning, which will make Quebec MNAs work through the weekend. He said the exceptional measure is necessary to pass bills that are in the public interest and accused the Liberals of trying to block the them.
“If we had some collaboration from the Liberal Party we would not be here this weekend,” he said. “I don’t have any choice this morning.”
The move comes as the province attempts to push through its immigration and secularism bills.
Bill 21, the CAQ’s secularism bill, would bar civil servants in positions of authority — including judges, teachers and police officers — from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. The proposed legislation has sparked backlash, but Premier François Legault maintains it has widespread support from the majority of Quebecers.
The province’s immigration reform, Bill 9, includes a proposed language and values test, and will see 18,000 applications from immigrants this year cancelled once it is passed.
Quebec Premier François Legault said a compromise is not possible when it comes to treating those 18,000 applications once the legislation is adopted.
Legault has claimed the Liberals are dragging their heels and the bills have been slowed down at the committee level by the opposition. Earlier this week, he said he could not rule out the idea of working through the weekend.
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Invoking a closure motion is a rare but legitimate tool the government can use when it feels committee work is stalled. It essentially accelerates the process.
In the past, governments were able to invoke closure for multiple bills at once but since 2009, they now have to use a separate closure motion for each piece of legislation.
MNAs will sit into Saturday evening for Bill 9 and all day Sunday for Bill 21. Both bills are expected to be adopted because the CAQ has a majority government. The weekend work blitz will end the winter legislative session.
The fall session is scheduled to begin Sept. 17, 2019.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Alessia Simona Maratta