A move for closure on the debate and a marathon weekend session at the Quebec National Assembly saw the contentious Bill 21 finally pass, 73 to 35. The legislation prohibits public-school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols to work, and mandates that citizens uncover their faces while receiving certain public services. And, for the next five years, it can’t be struck down by the courts due to the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause.

Premier François Legault says Quebecers are on his side, but the bill is already facing challenges. On Monday, Montrealers took to the streets in protest, while earlier that same day the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a motion for an injunction in Quebec Superior Court.

Today on the podcast, we’re joined by Eric Mendelsohn, Robert Leckey, Jack Jedwab and Bochra Manaï, who unpack and critique some of the key dimensions of the bill – including the identity debate, the disproportionate effect on Muslim women, and the legal grounds on which it can – or cannot – be challenged.

Download for free. New episodes every second Wednesday. Tweet your questions and comments to @IRPP, @jbugiel or @JRicardoBM.

Photo: People attend a demonstration to protest against the Quebec government’s Bill 21 in Montreal, Monday, June 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Download for free. Tweet your questions and comments to @IRPP.

Jack Jedwab
Jack Jedwab is president of the Association for Canadian Studies and of the Canadian Metropolis Conference on Immigration and Integration. He is also a lecturer with Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs.
Robert Leckey
An advocate emeritus of the Barreau du Québec, Robert Leckey is the dean of the faculty of law of McGill University and Samuel Gale Professor.
Bochra Manaï
Bochra Manaï is a researcher focusing on ethnicity, immigration and cohabitation in the city space. She works as a consultant with community organizations, including the Quebec branch of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
Eric Mendelsohn
Eric Mendelsohn is a Montreal-based lawyer and is a member of the Barreau du Québec, the Law Society of Ontario and the New York State Bar. He served as a law clerk to former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at the Supreme Court of Canada.