Quebec chief justice postpones speech to Jewish law society over Bill 21 concerns

Quebec chief justice postpones speech to Jewish law society over Bill 21 concerns

MONTREAL — Quebec’s chief justice, who is hearing a case seeking a suspension of the province’s secularism law, will no longer be speaking to an association of Jewish lawyers in Montreal following allegations of bias.

The Lord Reading Law Society announced late Tuesday it and Chief Justice Nicole Duval Hesler mutually decided to postpone her speech scheduled for Dec. 10 because the society is involved in a separate court challenge to the secularism law, known as Bill 21.

Duval Hesler’s scheduled talk on how to avoid conflicts of interest at the Quebec Court of Appeal was one element of a complaint filed against her at the Canadian Judicial Council by a Montreal junior college history teacher.

Frederic Bastien also complained to the council that while presiding over a Bill 21 case last week the chief justice declared herself a feminist and suggested opposition to the province’s secularism law results from “visual allergies” to seeing women in a hijab.

Bastien asked the council to investigate Duval Hesler for her comments and for her planned speech to the law society, which he said left the impression she was a partisan judge with a bias against Bill 21.

The law prohibits some public sector workers, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work, and Duval Hesler is one of three judges hearing an appeal from groups seeking to have the central components of the law suspended while their full legal challenge is heard.

The Lord Reading Law Society had filed an intervention in another court challenge to the law, brought by three women teachers.

The society also submitted a brief to a legislature committee last April, which stated Bill 21 “has no reason to exist and, in fact, will create and worsen divisions in Quebec ….”

The chief justice’s actions have drawn divided reactions from academics, with some defending her and others saying she went too far. A judicial council spokeswoman said Monday 30 people had contacted the office with concerns about Duval Hesler following news of Bastien’s complaint.

Premier Francois Legault declined on Wednesday to weigh in on the debate but promised to do what he can to defend the law.

“I told you I have to be prudent, to protect the separation of powers,” he told reporters when asked the postponement of Duval Hesler’s speech. “I can’t tell you more. What I can say is that the government will do all that is possible to protect Bill 21.”

This reporter was first published by The Canadian Press on Dec. 4, 2019.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Rotary Club of Red Deer logo.
Red Deer Rotary Club hosting tree planting event later this month

The Rotary Club of Red Deer will host a tree-planting event later… Continue reading

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman holds up freedom of information requests that turned up no records. The Opposition requested back-to-school re-entry plan correspondence between Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and school boards, teachers and the media. Photo via Facebook live
NDP renews calls for Alberta gov’t to scrap K-6 draft curriculum

The NDP is once again calling on the Alberta Government to get… Continue reading

Earlier this week Alberta Health Services warned that Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department would be temporarily without physician coverage from May 12, at 6 p.m., to May 13, at 7 a.m. (Photo contributed by the Town of Rocky Mountain House)
Doctors needed in Rocky Mountain House

Emergency department temporarily closed due to doctor shortage

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Insert your name here

Back in the Paleolithic Era when a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 29 cents… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Job search: Write a request that will get accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests… Continue reading

T-shirt with vaccine shot. (Contributed photo)
Letter: Hand out T-shirts with vaccine shots

I made myself a graphic T-shirt recently after getting my vaccine shot.… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) as TJ Brodie (78) defends during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Friday, May 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Connor scores twice, Jets beat Leafs in regular-season finale

Connor scores twice, Jets beat Leafs in regular-season finale

Atletico Ottawa defender Vashon Neufville controls the ball during Atletico Ottawa’s first team practice of their inaugural season in the Canadian Premier League in Ottawa, Wednesday June 3, 2020. The Canadian Premier League plans to kick off its third season mid-June to early July in one location without fans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Wattie
Canadian Premier League delays kickoff again, looks to mid-June to early July start

Canadian Premier League delays kickoff again, looks to mid-June to early July start

Calgary’s Stephen Ames shoots 66 to take Mitsubishi Electric lead

Calgary’s Stephen Ames shoots 66 to take Mitsubishi Electric lead

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) deflects a shot against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, celebrates a goal with teammates during third period NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens, in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 5, 2021. Brown will lead a young Canadian squad into the world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

Most Read