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Secularism meets 
the Charter of Rights

by Gareth Morley

As the April 7 election showed, there are no sure things in Quebec politics. If the Parti Québécois had won, and if – as originally announced – the National Assembly had enacted Bill 60 (the “Charter of Values”) without using the notwithstanding clause, it would have been challenged in the courts, and would likely have been struck down.

With the victory of the Quebec Liberal Party, it is harder to make predictions – especially about the future, as Yogi Berra would say. The Liberals promised a more moderate version of the Charter of Values. Kathleen Weil, the new Quebec Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, has been vague about what the legislation will contain.

Scope of any challenge

While the PQ’s Bill 60 had 52 articles, three in particular seemed vulnerable to court challenge:

  • section 5, which would have prohibited employees of public bodies from wearing headgear, jewellery or clothing which conspicuously indicate a religious affiliation;
  • section 6, which would have required employees of public bodies to keep their faces uncovered; and
  • section 7, which (subject to some unspecified exceptions) would have required anyone receiving a public service to keep their face uncovered.
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About the Author

Gareth Morley
Gareth Morley is a litigator with the British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General. (All opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect the views of the Ministry of Attorney General.)

One Comment

  1. EarnestCanuck

    One cannot but admire the baldness of Mr Morley’s bald statements; as a pre-Charter enforcer type, the man both solicits and barristers. Huzzah! one says, two and a half times; huzzah! Huzz!

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