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Opponents of Bill 21 seek leave to appeal decision that maintained secularism law

Opponents are argue that people are being affected by Bill 21 now and it must be stopped

July 23, 2019  The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – 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.

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.

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

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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 Faarooq argues that people are being affected by the law now and it must be stopped.

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.

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.

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.