In an end-of-year interview with The Canadian Press, Justin Trudeau gave the bottom of his thoughts on Quebec’s law on the secularism of the state, and that is not limited to his reaction to the fate reserved for teachers.
It resolutely departs from the consensus that was signed by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission at one time. Judges and police officers, too, should be able to display religious symbols while on duty, he said.
“I think that when you fall into a line where you start to say that someone who is religious would make a worse policeman or judge than someone else, you are undermining the confidence that people can have. in our institutions, ”he argued.
His colleagues from the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) had only protested against the addition of teachers to the list of persons in authority covered by the law. And since the debate on Bill 21 and the adoption in 2019 of the legislative text, opponents of the restrictions have mostly brandished teachers as an example of injustice.
Wednesday, in the Commons, stung by the attacks of the Bloc Québécois in this file, Mr. Trudeau had mentioned the police officers and the judges.
“We do not ask questions about the religion of a police officer or a judge. […] Any religion that someone practices in (his) personal life should not prevent him from practicing a profession, ”he thundered.
Invited to elaborate in the interview the next day, the Prime Minister went there with a long plea.
“Even if someone doesn’t wear a conspicuous religious sign, will the fact that they are Jewish or Muslim make them less of a policeman?” No. We do not accept that in Quebec. We are proud to have people who serve from all kinds of different origins. And when we say “if you have to wear something visible, ah, that affects your ability to be professional…” It is not to have confidence in our institutions, to say that if you are religious, you can do less. do your job well if you are not, ”he insisted.
Support the illegal?
In an interview with Le Devoir this week, the head of the PLQ, Dominique Anglade, said she would not defend a school board that has done something illegal by hiring Fatemeh Anvari, despite the law.
Will Prime Minister Trudeau come to the defense of an illegal act?
“It is not against a federal law”, he begins by answering.
At the insistence of journalists from The Canadian Press, he recovered.
” I understand. I understand. And me my challenge… and I’m not telling people not to follow the law. I am telling people who challenge this law in court that they should continue to do this work, to defend themselves in court, ”he concluded.
To facilitate these procedures before the courts, the mayors of large Canadian cities say they are prepared to spend thousands of dollars to finance legal challenges aimed at countering the law adopted more than two years ago in Quebec.
The City of Brampton put $ 100,000 into the pot. Toronto and Calgary are ready to follow suit.
Faced with these gestures, at least one of Justin Trudeau’s Quebec ministers stepped in. “Me, I suggest to people who are outside Quebec to let this debate take place in Quebec”, advised the Minister of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau, on leaving the Commons.
“It is the demonstration that there is a misunderstanding in this country between what the vision of secularism in Quebec is and in the rest of Canada”, observed for his part the Bloc member Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, in front of the same doors.
Without condemning the intervention of the mayors, Mr. Trudeau was worried to see the public debate in English Canada slide towards anti-Quebec intolerance.
“We are telling a young woman that she must choose between her religion or her job. I think we should encourage this reflection, but me, what scares me is that indeed, if it starts to fall into “Quebec bashing”, it will harm the conversation, ”he said. said.
“It’s interesting conversations to have and I deplore the intensity, but I fully understand it when there are Muslims or people outside Quebec who see it as a direct attack on fundamental rights, when many Quebecers see it as “we are freeing people from a religion”, ”he noted.
All in all, Justin Trudeau believes his father was right in not wanting a “notwithstanding clause” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The government of François Legault evoked this “notwithstanding clause” to protect its law on the secularism of the State against attacks in the courts.
“I agree with my father that it’s not a good thing to have in the Charter,” he concluded.