Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 18, 2021
Toronto city council votes to help fight Quebec’s Bill 21 in court after Brampton calls for support
Toronto city council unanimously voted in support of helping to fund a legal fight against Quebec’s law restricting religious symbols Thursday, after Brampton called on other Canadian cities to join in the initiative.
John Tory, the mayor of Canada’s largest city, said in a tweet he would put the request to council Thursday, repeating that both he and city council have repeatedly voiced opposition to Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21.
On Thursday, city council unanimously voted in favour of the motion to reaffirm the city’s opposition to the bill. City council will also contribute $100,000 to support the joint legal challenge to the bill being brought by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“Today, city council made it very clear that Toronto stands with municipalities from across Canada in opposition to Bill 21 and in support of the legal challenge against this bill,” Tory said in a news release Thursday.
“We cannot simply stand by as Torontonians and Canadians and see a law like this diminish the protection and respect accorded religious and other basic freedoms by our Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.”
He also encouraged other cities to join the fight to “uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Tory was adding his voice to an initiative from Brampton city council, which also voted Wednesday to contribute $100,000 to challenging the Quebec law and encouraged other cities to donate.
Adopted in June 2019, Bill 21 prohibits the wearing of religious symbols such as hijabs, kippas and turbans by teachers and other government employees deemed to be in positions of authority. Debate over the law was revived this month with news that a teacher in Chelsea, Que., had been reassigned because of her hijab.
Brampton calls itself one of the most diverse communities in Canada and says it wants to show its support for what diversity brings to local communities and Canada as a whole.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown calls Bill 21 discriminatory and says freedom of religion is a fundamental principle that must be upheld.
Since Brown called on other cities to get involved, several communities across the country have indicated their support for his initiative and will put requests for funding to their respective councils.
By late Wednesday afternoon, the motion had already won the support of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek. (CBC)