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

By Anthony Urciuoli

Published on January 19, 2022 at 4:20 p.m.

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

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

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

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

In his motion, Eisenberger noted that the bill violates fundamental 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.

Debate over Bill 21, which was signed into law in 2019, was sparked last month after Grade 3 teacher Fatemeh Anvari was reassigned from teaching at her school in Chelsea, Quebec, because she was wearing 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% of Francophones polled in the survey said they were “strongly” or “somewhat” in favor of banning visible religious symbols worn by teachers, only 26% of Anglophones agreed. .

Among Quebecers, 73.9% of people aged 65 to 74 said they were in favor of the ban – the highest of any age group – while only 27.8% of those aged 18 to 24 year olds said they were.

In Canada, the average was 33% in favor of the ban, 55% against and 12% undecided.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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