At the Council meeting on January 26th, I will be asking Council to waive the rules of procedure to consider a motion, seconded by Councillor King, reaffirming our opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21 and to join many Canadian municipalities in providing a one-time financial contribution to support the joint legal challenge to the Bill being brought by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
As the Nation’s Capital, we must protect our racialized communities against discrimination and uphold our shared values of tolerance and diversity. Quebec’s Bill 21 infringes upon those rights by targeting religious and ethnic minorities who wear religious symbols such as hijabs, kippahs and turbans. Ottawa is a city where people of all faiths can feel assured and comfortable when wearing their religious symbols in schools, workplaces, and government institutions. Everyone regardless of where they live in our country should be afforded that same right. This is a seminal court case and will be foundational to ensuring the rights, values, and religious freedoms of our citizens. It also hits particularly close to home after the recent dismissal of a Grade 3 teacher in Chelsea who was removed from the classroom for wearing a hijab in the workplace. This is unacceptable and action is needed.
The motion that will be before Council is asking that in addition to reiterating our opposition to the Bill, we also provide a one-time contribution of up to $100,000 towards the legal challenge, to be funded from our Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund.
If this motion is successful, Ottawa would be joining other Canadian municipalities in this fight whose Councils have all approved similar motions including:
- The City of Brampton ($100,000)
- The City of Toronto ($100,000)
- The City of London ($100,000)
- The City of Markham ($10,000)
- The City of Victoria ($9,500)
As well, there are many other cities that are currently considering motions to provide financial and other assistance towards the challenge including:
- The City of Calgary
- Halifax Regional Municipality
- The City of Vancouver
- The City of Winnipeg
- The City of Guelph
- The City of Hamilton
- The City of Peterborough
I welcome your feedback on this important issue, which can be sent to Diane.Deans@Ottawa.ca