Hamilton City Council votes to join fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, banning religious symbols

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Published January 19, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Demonstrators stand outside the courthouse on the first day of the constitutional challenge to Bill 21, which bans public workers in positions of "authority" from wearing religious symbols, before the Quebec Superior Court in Montreal on Monday, November 2, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.)

Hamilton City Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to support a legal challenge against Quebec’s Bill 21.

The 14-0 vote at Wednesday’s (Jan. 19) council meeting means the City of Hamilton will join the efforts of cities across Canada to challenge the bill, which bans public workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols, such as crosses, hijabs, turbans, and yarmulkes.

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The motion was tabled by Mayor Fred Eisenberger and approved by Coun. Brad Clark, who reiterated that no public funds will be used to challenge the bill.

In his motion, Eisenberger noted that the bill violates the basic principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is a clear demonstration of Islamophobia.

In December, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown urged the mayors of Canada’s 100 largest cities to join the fight and the list of supporters continues to grow.

The debate over Bill 21, which was enacted in 2019, was ignited last month after Grade 3 teacher Fatemeh Anvari was reassigned from teaching duties at her Chelsea, Quebec school because she wore a hijab.

Premier Francois Legault has repeatedly cited strong public support for Bill 21 as a warning to any leaders outside Quebec who challenge it.

Public support for the bill appears to be divided along linguistic and generational lines.

While 59 per cent of French speakers in the survey said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” support banning visible religious symbols worn by teachers, only 26 per cent of English speakers felt the same.

Amongst Quebecers, 73.9 per cent of people aged 65 to 74 said they supported the ban — the highest of any age group — while only 27.8 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds said they did.

Across Canada, the average was 33 per cent in favour of the ban, 55 per cent against, and 12 per cent undecided.

 

–with files from The Canadian Press

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