A bad day for human rights in Canada

April 20, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Following the Quebec Superior Court’s decision regarding Quebec’s “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

 “The Canadian Human Rights Commission continues to be very concerned about the Quebec law entitled An Act respecting the laicity of the State, which remains largely in place following today’s ruling by the Quebec Superior Court.

“We are encouraged that today’s ruling removes some of the discriminatory barriers created by the law. However, we are disappointed that most parts of the law will continue to apply. These provisions run contrary to values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will continue to target and marginalize people for their religious beliefs. They will create barriers that limit people’s opportunities and abilities to participate fully in society. This runs counter to fundamental principles of equality, dignity and respect.

“Further, as Canada’s national human rights institution, we have a responsibility to monitor and report on whether Canada is meeting its international human rights obligations. While today’s ruling narrows the scope of the law, we believe the remaining provisions breach Canada’s promise to uphold its international commitments to equality and non-discrimination.

“In the end, this law puts people who are already in a vulnerable situation at a greater disadvantage and serves to legitimize religious and racial intolerance — opening the door for others to do the same. This puts everyone’s rights at risk, no matter where you live in Canada. Laws in Canada and in every province should seek to end discrimination — not promote it.”

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