Quebec Premier François Legault said on Tuesday he doubts Ottawa will involve itself in any challenges to Bill 21 because they realize most Quebecers support the legislation.
“I think the federal politicians will be careful because they must know, as I do, that the vast majority of Quebecers agree with us,” Legault told 98.5 FM host Paul Arcand. “Also they’re going into an election this autumn. I’ve heard (Conservative MP) Gérard Deltell say in the name of the Conservatives that there would be no challenge if a Conservative government wins (the Oct. 21 federal election).”
Legault also said that he expected Ottawa’s prudence to extend beyond election day.
“I don’t think the federal government will get involved. As for citizens contesting it, that was expected, which is why we immediately used the notwithstanding clause to stop these legal fights and to allow us to apply the law right now.
“I think there’s a consensus, (the law) takes nothing away from the other provinces and it’s a choice that was already made in Germany, in Belgium, in France, where religious symbols are banned for certain categories of employee.”
When asked how he intended to enforce the law when some institutions including school boards and municipalities have said they will not obey it, Legault said the provincial government would “apply pressure” to win compliance, but did not go into detail on how that pressure would be applied.
“The government of Quebec has full powers when it comes to school boards and municipalities. I don’t think we’ll get to that point. But the law will be applied.”
Legault also played down a new poll that suggests his government is more popular now than it was when it was elected last October.
“We’re always careful because polls change quickly,” he said. “For the moment it’s going well, I anticipate that at some point it may go less well, that we’ll have difficult decisions to make.
“(But) we’ll enjoy the situation right now.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019