Published on January 14, 2022 at 4:28 p.m.
A number of Canadian municipalities have followed Brampton’s lead in donating money to help pay for a legal challenge to Quebec’s controversial Bill 21, but don’t expect Mississauga to follow suit.
Discussing the issue at Mississauga’s general committee meeting this week, Mayor Bonnie Crombie and councilors spoke out strongly against the use of property tax money here to help fund a legal battle in another province. .
“I personally condemn Bill 21. It is discriminatory, it undermines the civil and human rights of individuals in Quebec,” Crombie told advisers, adding, “I think we all agree that it is reprehensible.
“But my personal view is that we shouldn’t use property tax money to fight another level of government in another province.
Crombie suggested that strong opposition to the controversial bill should come from the Canadian Parliament – with both government and opposition members backing the challenge to Bill 21 once it reaches the Supreme Court level.
She said the idea of municipalities across Canada getting involved in Quebec affairs is a risky situation.
However, Crombie added, she was approached by church groups across town and she said she would support helping them raise money for the fight.
“My problem is that we are in operating deficit in the city. We don’t have the money left over to support a legal challenge in another province,” the mayor said.
Bill 21 was passed in June 2019 and prohibits public workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols at work.
Debate on and The crackdown on the law only came to light last month after a Quebec teacher was reassigned for wearing her hijab in class.
Subsequently, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who said he sees Bill 21 as an attack on “the Canadian way” tried to rally Canadian municipalities around the cause.
He wants them to follow Brampton’s example. City Council there voted last month to donate $100,000 to three organizations challenging the controversial Quebec law.
Brown has called on the mayors of 100 Canadian municipalities to donate to the legal fight, leading major Canadian cities like Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg to pass motions pledging their support to fight a bill outside of their borders.
Mississauga Ward 5 Councilor Carolyn Parrish shared Crombie’s concerns about involvement in what could quickly become a political mess.
“It is extremely unusual for cities to intervene in another province’s appeal court,” she said. “This is not a Supreme Court hearing. Guess that’s why the feds are staying out of it right now. If and when it comes to the Supreme Court, (it would) be more appropriate to start looking for broader support across the country and for the federal government to take more interest in it.
The lawsuit against Bill 21 is led by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the World Sikh Organization of Canada, as well as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month he was against Bill 21 and that the federal government had not ruled out intervening in the matter.
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