20th April 2021
The Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL) responds to the decision of Quebec Superior Court concerning Bill 21.
“The RPL welcomes the validation of Quebec Bill 21 by Quebec Superior Court, but is concerned about the exemption granted to English-language schools. The protection of the freedom of conscience of parents and children does not depend on the language spoken,” according to Claude Kamal Codsi, president of the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL, Alliance for Secularism).
“Parents in English-language school commissions also care about the freedom of conscience of their children; they want them to be protected against religious proselytism, whether active or passive. They are also opposed to their children being exposed to values that are contrary to their deeply held convictions and violate the principle of equality between the sexes. Why deny them the protection of freedom of conscience which Bill 21 offers?” asks Mr. Codsi.
“The development of the child’s critical faculties, as well as the protection of the child’s freedom of conscience, must be at the heart of the educational project. Regardless of the school system in which they serve, each teacher is in direct contact, during their career, with thousands of students. Why then, in such a context, should the freedom of religion of teachers be privileged over the freedom of conscience of students in English-language school boards? Let us not forget that school, whether French or English, exists for children—not for teachers or parents—and must not, under any circumstances, be used as a forum for the exhibition of political or religious views.
“The Supreme Court of Canada decision in the case Mouvement laïque québécois versus Saguenay, which imposes on State representatives a duty of neutrality, both in fact and in appearance, applies to all. The decision does not say that this rule applied only to part of the Quebec population. The Quebec Superior Court ruling creates a major divide between French and English schools. The RPL and its members will continue to defend the freedom of conscience of all citizens, whether they be French or English,” continues M. Codsi.
“Furthermore, the RPL finds it unacceptable that the judgment declares inoperative the articles of Bill 21 which require that Members of the National Assembly have their faces uncovered. How can a sitting MNA with his face hidden adequately represent all the citizens of his or her constituency?”
“Finally, we commend and support the decision of the Government of Quebec to appeal this judgment,” concludes Mr. Codsi.
Spokesperson: Claude Kamal Codsi, President