services. Section 10 of the Act was stayed pending a final determination of the
constitutional challenge. The stay was not challenged by the Couillard's Liberal
government - which was defeated in the provincial election on October 1, 2018.
The new government was led by Premier Francois Legault of the Coalition Avenir
One of their campaign promises was to introduce a "secularism charter",
which would prohibit public employees from wearing conspicuous religious symbols at
work. The act would invoke the "notwithstanding clause" in the Canadian Charter and
the Quebec Charter if necessary.
THE "NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE":
Under Section 33 of the Canadian
, however, Parliament or a provincial
legislature may expressly declare that an act applies notwithstanding fundamental
rights, including ss.2(a) and 15, thereby immunizing legislation from a
constitutional challenge on the basis that it infringes those rights. Any declaration under
the so-called "notwithstanding clause," or "override," expires after five years unless it is
re-enacted. Section 52 of the Quebec
sets out a similar derogation provision.
The "notwithstanding clause" in Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms allows federal, provincial or territorial governments to temporarily override
certain Charter rights. These overrides are to be renewed after five years.
SUMMARY OF THE CASE:
June 16, 2019
- The Quebec National Assembly passes
Bill 21 into law.
An Act respecting the laicity of the State
also known as
Section 6 The Act p
rohibits individuals from wearing religious symbols including
clothing, symbols, jewellery, accessories or headwear, in the exercise of their functions.
Individuals include government departments and agencies, bodies receiving public
funding, municipalities, public transit authorities, school boards, child care centres, and
social service institutions such as hospitals.