July 23, 2019 9:55 am
Updated: July 23, 2019 5:58 pm

Opponents of Quebec religious symbols bill to appeal decision to maintain law

WATCH: The next chapter in the fight against Quebec's secularism law could be kicking off. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, lawyers representing Muslim and civil liberties groups announced they plan to appeal a Quebec Superior Court decision denying the group an injunction.


Groups opposed to Quebec’s secularism law are seeking to appeal a court decision that found it wasn’t necessary to suspend certain provisions of the law.

Last Thursday, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that Bill 21 would continue to apply in full until a challenge of the law could be heard on it merits.

READ MORE: Quebec judge rejects groups’ attempt to have secularism law suspended

The provincial law, which came into effect in June, bans some public sector workers, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols on the job.

“We cannot tell a certain segment of the society that they cannot participate because they are different,” said Steve Slimovitch, criminal law adviser for B’nai Brith.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec teacher on why Bill 21 should be struck down

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On the steps of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal Tuesday, two organizations opposed to the law announced they had filed a motion seeking leave to appeal on Monday.

Justice Michel Yergeau ruled last week that the applicants had failed to demonstrate harm warranting a stay, but National Council of Canadian Muslims’ executive director Mustafa Farooq argues that people are being affected by the law now and it must be stopped.

“We disagree that the harm to folks in Quebec is hypothetical. Rather it is actual, inevitable and irreparable,” he insisted.

READ MORE: Quebec court hears challenge against religious symbols bill

Bill 21 invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution, which prevents citizens from challenging the law for violating fundamental rights and liberties protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau weighs in on Quebec’s Bill 21, says government shouldn’t legislate what people can wear

The lawyers who challenged the legislation went beyond the charter arguments, arguing the law is unconstitutional because it encroaches on federal jurisdiction, it is impermissibly vague and it violates citizens’ rights to participate in their democratic institutions.

“I am someone from a religious minority and I have to choose between my career and my profession,” said Amrit Kaur, a recent teaching graduate.

“I’m actually seeking employment outside of the province because I can’t do my job here. So if that’s not harm, I don’t know what is.”

READ MORE: UN experts ‘concerned,’ want answers about Quebec religious symbols bill

On Tuesday, other organizations including the World Sikh Council and B’nai Brith Canada said they are considering seeking intervener status to join the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Canadian Civil Liberties Association in the case.

WATCH BELOW: Teacher says she feels penalized by Bill 21

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