Ontario | A mayor at the front against Law 21

(Ottawa) Patrick Brown predicts that one day, in Canada, a prime minister will be forced to issue an official apology for the adoption and application in Quebec of Bill 21. In the meantime, the mayor of Brampton continues his crusade for finance the legal challenge of the State Secularism Act – and he rubs his hands as he sees the measure’s popularity falter.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Melanie Marquis

Melanie Marquis
The Press

From Victoria to Calgary via Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax, from one end of the country to the other, “about forty cities” assured the Chief Magistrate of Brampton of their support for the rebellion against the State Secularism Act. Some will untie their purse strings, as Patrick Brown invited them to do on December 14, others will not.


Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton, Ontario

The approach aroused unease in Quebec, particularly in Montreal, where the city council had condemned the bill, in April 2019. In the office of Mayor Valérie Plante, we admitted to being “uncomfortable” with the fact that cities companies are financing an action against a law “which comes under the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec”.

In short: what am I getting involved in? as they say on this side of the Ottawa River. “Many people in my community fled their country because they were persecuted because of their faith, they were deprived of opportunities, and for them, the law of Quebec was odious”, explains the mayor, whose city ​​is among the most diverse in the country.

And if the case, which has been appealed and which the Quebec Court of Appeal is to hear next spring, goes all the way to the Supreme Court, it could have ramifications that “would affect all Canadians”, insists this former Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party and ousted leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

A Prime Minister will have to apologize

In a telephone interview, Patrick Brown castigates the “lack of courage” of party leaders in Ottawa, and also of Quebec mayors – whose names he will not reveal – who give up raising their voices because “the Prime Minister [François Legault] is too popular,” and that Bill 21 is too.

“At one time, here in Canada, the internment of Japanese Canadians was popular. Indian boarding schools were popular, ”establishes the mayor as a parallel.

Thus he sees, in his crystal ball, a Prime Minister forced to rise, in the National Assembly or in the House of Commons, to make an act of contrition.

“I think that one day this law will be repealed. I think one day we will see a Prime Minister apologize [au Parlement] he prophesied. But since in Ottawa, the party leaders only “reflect the position of the Bloc Québécois” to avoid “losing support in Quebec”, he felt the need to take up the pilgrim’s staff.

“Not a criticism of Quebecers”

Mayor Brown wrote his missive to the mayors of Canada’s 100 largest cities in the wake of the reassignment of a 3-year-old teachere year of the Outaouais, last December. This story revived the debate that had been (relatively) latent since the famous question posed by moderator Shachi Kurl to the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet.


Messages addressed to the reassigned teacher and denouncing the State Secularism Act hung on the fence of Chelsea Elementary School, in Outaouais

On the set of the leaders’ debate in English, during the election campaign, she asked Mr. Blanchet to justify his support for Bill 21, which she described as “racist”. After the oratorical contest, Justin Trudeau – who never hid his aversion to the law, but did not call it “racist” – had hammered home that “Quebecers are not racist” and deplored this “amalgam”.

During the interview with The Press, which took place in French and English, Mr. Brown repeatedly professed his love for Quebec, “its language, its culture”.

His initiative, insists the mayor, “is not a criticism of Quebecers”. And if this law is according to him “racist”, he says he does not consider “that there is a higher degree of racism in Quebec [qu’ailleurs] ».

He doesn’t think his approach will backfire. “The proof is that support for the law has diminished,” he pleads. According to a poll conducted by Leger for The Canadian Press, which was published last week, support for banning the wearing of religious symbols for teachers fell from 64% to 55% of September to January.

The campaign to raise public funds in municipalities aims to fill the wallets of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization of Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which are fighting the law in court. The municipal councils of a few towns have agreed to provide them with $100,000.

1,9 million

Amount that Mayor Patrick Brown wishes to raise by soliciting his counterparts across the country, which would bring the protesters’ war chest to around 3 million

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