As arguments wrapped on the Quebec Courtroom of Attraction Wednesday for the authorized problem to the province’s secularism regulation — often called Invoice 21 — the panel of judges hinted that the case hinges on whether or not the invoice disproportionately discriminates towards Muslim girls who put on the hijab.
“That is a tricky query, but it surely’s actually on the centre of our preoccupations and that is why we requested it,” Justice Yves-Marie Morissette mentioned because the panel of three judges posed some last inquiries to legal professionals to make clear their positions.
The Quebec authorities and a number of other civil liberties and spiritual minority teams offered arguments final week and once more Wednesday a couple of Superior Courtroom determination final 12 months, which upheld most — however not all — of the controversial secularism regulation.
The regulation enacted underneath the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) authorities in 2019 prohibits public college academics, cops, authorities legal professionals and a bunch of different civil servants from carrying non secular symbols at work.
The CAQ pre-emptively invoked the constitutional however clause when drafting the invoice to guard it towards authorized challenges.
The clause offers provinces the facility to override parts the Canadian Constitution of Rights and Freedoms for renewable intervals of 5 years.
A key argument of teams against the regulation is that it discriminates on the premise of gender by disproportionately concentrating on Muslim girls. Provincial legal guidelines that may be proven to be discriminatory on the premise of gender can’t be shielded by the however clause.
The panel of judges Wednesday challenged each side to make clear their positions on that key query.
Perri Ravon, lawyer for the English Montreal Faculty Board, who made a number of factors about Invoice 21’s disproportionate impact on Muslim girls final week, was questioned about that by Justice Marie-France Bich.
“It appears the impact of Invoice 21 on women and men differs relying on their faith. For Christians, it has a sure influence. Should you take a look at Jewish individuals, Sikh individuals, or Muslim individuals, it has one other influence. From there, the place will we go?” Justice Bich requested.
“If we take a look at who’s being impacted, it is Muslim girls. If we take a look at who’s shedding their jobs, it is Muslim girls. If we take a look at who the regulation was designed for, it is Muslim girls,” Ravon replied.
She famous that to this point within the province, Muslim girls who put on the hijab are the one individuals who’ve misplaced jobs or been denied employment on account of Invoice 21.
Justice Bich requested if it was potential these girls had been being discriminated towards merely due to their faith and never due to their gender.
“This can be a case of intersectional discrimination,” Ravon replied. “Not all girls or not even most girls should be affected to determine gender discrimination.”
“Traditionally, it is extra susceptible subgroups of girls that require constitutional protections,” she mentioned.
Province says no proof of gender discrimination
Amélie Pelletier-Desrosiers, lawyer for the attorney-general of Quebec, argued there was no proof that Invoice 21 discriminates based mostly on gender.
Pelletier-Desrosiers identified that almost all academics are girls and so it was regular, however not essentially discriminatory, that they might be extra affected by Invoice 21.
Christiane Pelchat, the lawyer representing the feminist group Droits des femmes du Québec — which helps Invoice 21 — picked up on this theme.
Pelchat identified that almost all cops and judges are males, and in order that it may equally be argued that the regulation discriminated unfairly towards males.
Pelchat additionally took a shot at Ravon’s arguments about intersectional discrimination, mentioning to the judges that intersectionality was not a acknowledged authorized argument in Canada.
Deliberations anticipated to take months
Now that the arguments have wrapped, the panel of judges must resolve whether or not to uphold the regulation or to strike down all or a part of it.
Justice Morissette, when requesting a doc from one of many legal professionals, quipped about how lengthy these deliberations would possibly take.
“Take your time, as a result of there is no method we’ll have a choice subsequent Tuesday,” Morissette mentioned.
Regardless of the Courtroom of Attraction decides, each the Quebec authorities and opponents of the regulation have mentioned that it is doubtless they will attraction the choice, and that it’s going to in the end be the Supreme Courtroom of Canada who will have the ultimate phrase on Invoice 21.