The government defends its law of religious neutrality in court for the first time

Photo: Ryan Remiorz, The Canadian Press
Represented by ms. Catherine McKenzie, Marie-Michelle Lacoste is estimated that the quebec act makes infringement of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the canadian and quebec charters of rights and freedoms.

The controversial law on religious neutrality does not cause harm to women who wear the niqab, since they have the same right to reasonable accommodation that, prior to its entry into force.


This is what has been pleaded on Friday, the attorney general of the government Couillard at the palais de justice of Montreal, at the hearing of the stay application relating to the section of the act that requires give and to receive public services with their faces uncovered.


This argument has been challenged by the complainants.


The law is challenged in superior Court by the national Council of muslims, the canadian civil liberties Association and the citizen’s Marie-Michelle Lacoste.


The complainants believe that it is infringement of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the canadian and quebec charters of rights and freedoms, since it applies to several situations of daily life.


The parties were heard for the first time in court Friday before the judge Babak Barin, who has taken the stay request under advisement. The judge has not said when it will issue its decision.


Reasonable accommodation


According to Me, Eric Cantin, lawyer for the prosecutor, there is no need to suspend article 10, since the case law in recent years regarding the reasonable accommodation applies to the law in its current form.


According to him, the harm felt by the women mentioned by the prosecution are related to their fears and ” do not derive from the law itself “. “These women are therefore able to obtain services and abide by the laws “, he says.


These words did not please Mrs. Lacoste. “He does not know what he is talking about. I invite it to go in my shoes for a week, ” said the complainant upon his release from the courtroom.


Me Cantin has also argued that, in accordance with the principles of law, a law adopted by the majority of the elected representatives is in the public interest.


He argues that the evidence of the prosecution is ” extremely incomplete “, so that it does not justify the request for a stay. A point on which the judge Barin asked the lawyer several times during his plea. “At the stage of relief, no one has concrete proof,” said the magistrate.


Argumentative denial


It is false to claim that women covered by the act 62 does not live of prejudice, countered the lawyer for the prosecution, ms. Catherine McKenzie, which has roundly challenged the plea of the defence. The lawyer has quoted an extract from the text of the act, which indicates that the public services in Québec must be given and received face to face ” all the time “.


“I don’t see how we can accommodate that,” she said to the judge.


In response to Me Cantin, who mentioned in her plea that no case of non-compliance with the act has not yet been listed, to Me, McKenzie said that it was precisely to prevent future incidents. “If [the government] does not want the law to apply, that he withdrew it !” she exclaimed.


The lawyer has added that the principle of public interest raised by the prosecutor does not apply to any price.


“When the legislature goes too far, there is a remedy : a request for relief. “In its current form, the law gives a preponderance to the disadvantages experienced by women affected by the measures, she pleaded.

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