Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
The Toronto City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Quebec’s law banning religious symbols from the public schools on Monday. The resolution by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 42 Toronto Centre-Rosedale) is the first by a local authority in the city in the face of opposition from the Quebec government.
The resolution, titled “Strengthening of Canadian identity, values, and culture in Toronto and Quebec,” cites the role of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v Singh, which upheld the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“C-8”) and found that the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t conflict with the British North America Act and Canadian Charter. The resolution takes great pains to explain why religious symbols are a threat to Quebec’s secularism and why they are a threat to Canadian religious freedom. It concludes by reiterating Toronto’s call to “reject the threat to Canadian values posed by Quebec Bill 21” and “join the fight to strengthen and protect secularism and religious freedom in Canada.”
The Quebec government released a statement denouncing the resolution. Premier Jean Charest noted that “Toronto city council, which represents almost half the population of the province, voted contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians.”
The Quebec government has been very public about their position that this law is necessary to protect Quebec culture and to protect Quebec values.
The Quebec government has been very public about their position that this law is necessary to protect Quebec culture and to protect Quebec values. The government has argued that this law makes no distinction between the symbols and the content of religious belief.
The government has also attempted to argue that non-Catholics in Quebec are less likely to support the law due to the existence of Quebec�