05 May 2018

Quebec’s face-covering ban is Ottawa’s business: [Toronto Star] Editorial


But while provinces have jurisdiction over how to deliver their services, there is of course an important constraint on that power: the constitutional protection for all Canadians of the rights and freedoms identified in the Charter. The question in the case of Bill 62, which seems unfairly to target women and Muslims, and which assumes the state has the right to impose a dress code, transcends jurisdiction.

These are the fundamental issues raised in a court challenge of the law launched last week by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, among other organizations and individuals. And, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now seems to recognize, they are clearly issues of national interest.

Trudeau said on Monday that his government is considering its options. It has a few: it could, for instance, add its voice to the challenge as an intervener; it could seek to speed up the process by referring the law to the Supreme Court; and it could contribute financially to the procedure. Whatever approach it chooses, Ottawa should be unafraid to lead.

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