Montreal English school board seeks leave to appeal Bill 21 ruling to Supreme Court

MONTREAL — The English Montreal School Board says it will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada a recent decision upholding Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21.

Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled in February that Bill 21 is constitutional, overturning a lower court ruling that exempted English school boards from applying some of the law’s key elements.

The 2019 law prohibits public sector workers in positions of authority — including teachers, judges, and police officers — from wearing religious symbols on the job.

The school board had challenged the law on the basis that it violates minority language rights and gender equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While the board was initially successful in gaining an exemption from certain provisions of the law, including the prohibition on hiring teachers who wear religious symbols, Quebec’s highest court reversed that decision. 

The school board says its council of commissioners voted on April 10 to mandate a law firm to file an application for leave to appeal to Canada’s highest court.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2024.

The Canadian Press