In the News: MLQ, PDF-Q & Quebec Ask for Disqualification of Justice Jamal

The Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ), the organization Pour les droits des femmes du Québec (PDF-Q) and the Attorney General of Quebec have each written to the Supreme Court requesting that Justice Mahmud Jamal be withdrawn from the case involving Quebec Bill 21 because Jamal was on the Board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), or even its president, at the time the CCLA initiated its challenge to Bill 21.

Justice Mahmud Jamal
(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

UPDATE: Justice Jamal withdraws from the case. Congratulations to MLQ & PDF-Q!

Supreme Court Justice recuses himself from Quebec secularism law case, CBC News , 2024-07-09.

Supreme Court Justice Mahmud Jamal has decided to recuse himself from hearing a challenge to Quebec’s secularism law after the provincial government and two advocacy groups argued his partiality in the appeal.

The Justice, however, says there is no legal basis for his recusal and that he’s removing himself so his participation does not become a distraction during the hearing, according to a letter written by court registrar Chantal Carbonneau.

Quebec asks Supreme Court judge to recuse himself on Bill 21 case, Thomas Laberge, The Canadian Press, CTV News, 2024-07-05.

In the wake of the legal challenge to Bill 21 on the secular nature of the State, Quebec Attorney General Simon Jolin-Barrette has asked Supreme Court Justice Mahmud Jamal to recuse himself, fearing that he “does not have the impartiality required to hear this case.”


In a letter sent to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Attorney General of Quebec states that Justice Jamal was the president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) at the time the association filed an action in Superior Court to challenge the Loi sur la laïcité de l’État in June 2019. […] The letter also states that “the fact that Justice Jamal had to decide questions of constitutional law raised by the association when he was its president means that today he would be the judge in a case in which he was a party.”

The Canadian Press has also obtained letters from the Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ) and the group Pour les droits des femmes du Québec (PDF Québec), which are also calling for the removal of Judge Jamal for reasons similar to those of Quebec.

However, in a letter dated June 25, the Supreme Court has already indicated that Justice Jamal has no intention of stepping down.


Last February, the Court of Appeal validated almost all of Bill 21, affirming that it did not violate the linguistic rights of English-speaking school boards. The Court of Appeal had also affirmed that Quebec had the right to use the notwithstanding clause preemptively, as it did in the case of Bill 21. This was a major setback for opponents of this legislation.


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