Three judges agreed that Bill 21 causes irreparable harm to some people, but two ruled that their hands are bound by the use of the clause by the government.
In a divided decision released on Thursday, the Court of Appeal of Quebec agreed not to suspend secularism law sections of the province.
Although the panel’s three judges agreed that the law causes irreparable harm to some people, two of the judges who ruled their hands are bound by the government’s use of the clause in the matter.
Chief Justice Nicole Duval Hesler, who is facing questions about past comments she made on the legislation, was the sole dissenting judge in favor of suspending the section of the law that prohibits people from wearing religious symbols at work.
But a decisive factor for the other two judges was the government’s use of the nevertheless clause, which prohibits people from challenging a law for breaching parts of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At this stage the use of the clause ruled by Judge Robert Mainville, made suspending the sections not “legally possible” at this stage. Doing so would also not be in the public interest, he added.
Mainville wrote that:“The vast majority of the main religions practised in Quebec, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, do not, at first glance at least, seem to make the wearing of religious symbols at work an absolute requirement of the faith,”.
He said:“Many of the issues pertaining to the wearing of religious symbols by Quebec police officers, teachers, school principals and judicial personnel including the issues of law that arise are complex and do not easily lend themselves to summary analyses based on piecemeal evidence,” he added, “as the appellants are asking us to do in the case at bar.”
The highest court in the province ruled on an application for an injunction seeking to keep some of the more controversial elements of the law while the Quebec Superior Court examines whether the law itself is unconstitutional.
This summer, the law Bill 21, came into effect. Legislation prohibits teachers, police, judges and other employees from wearing religious symbols at work in positions of authority.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, one of the organisations behind the appeal, reacted after the ruling said it was disappointed with the decision but that it “never thought that fighting for the rights of Quebecers and Canadians would be easy.”
The executive director, Mustafa Farooq, said. “We are reviewing our options now,”
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said the government would closely follow the court , said Radio-Canada. “Today was only a decision on the stay. Nothing has changed today in the position of the federal government.”


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