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Burlington Council Unanimously Condemns Bill 21 That Bans Public Servants From Wearing Religious Symbols



When any resident, anywhere faces discrimination based on religion, it affects us all and we must speak out. I’m grateful to Burlington City Council for their unanimous support for my motion to condemn Quebec’s Bill 21 banning public servants from wearing religious symbols. I also want to thank Counc. Rory Nisan for seconding the motion. Counc. Nisan serves on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as our representative for Halton. Bill 21 has been a topic at FCM, and many municipalities across the province and country have passed similar motions.

Some have also made a financial contribution to the court case fighting Bill 21. We chose not to make a financial contribution from your tax dollars, out of respect and after hearing from municipal colleagues including in Quebec. Any resident can contribute personally, if they wish to do so.

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At our meeting on Jan. 18, Burlington City Council unanimously passed a resolution moved by me and seconded by Ward 3 Counc. Rory Nisan regarding the Province of Quebec’s Bill 21.

You can view the full resolution below (or click the link). Watch the discussion at Council and view the minutes of the meeting on the City’s Council Minutes page here (Item 15.2):


Seconded by: Councillor Nisan

Whereas Bill 21 – An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, bans public servants from wearing religious symbols; and

Whereas Bill 21 was passed by the Province of Quebec in June 2019 and has led to loss of employment and reassignment for workers in Quebec based on them wearing religious symbols such as headscarves; and

Whereas Burlington City Council condemns Bill 21 as it is discriminatory and does not uphold equality of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation, as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas the City of Burlington supports residents of all faiths and backgrounds, and works to ensure everyone in the community feels safe and included; and

Whereas the City of Burlington stands with other municipalities, such as Calgary, Brampton, Toronto, Winnipeg and municipalities across Canada, who have also condemned Bill 21 and support the current legal challenge to Quebec’s Bill 21;

Whereas there is a municipal interest in joining with others across Canada to uphold and defend the rights of all citizens of our country to freedom from discrimination based on religion;

Whereas the Ontario Big City Mayor’s Caucus (OBCM), at their meeting of Dec. 16, 2021, approved a motion that OBCM stand in solidarity recognizing that Bill 21 is discriminatory and does not uphold equality of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation, as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and further that OBCM asks the Parliament of Canada (both government and opposition), to support the challenge of Bill 21 at the Supreme Court;

Therefore be it resolved that:

The City of Burlington asks the Parliament of Canada (both government and opposition) to condemn Bill 21, and support the challenge of Bill 21 at the Supreme Court;

The City of Burlington stand alongside other municipalities to officially signal our support for the legal challenge against Bill 21 by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; and

A copy of this resolution be sent to The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada, The Honourable, PC., M.P. Erin O’Toole, The Honourable, P.C., M.P. Yves-Francois Blanchet, The Honourable, P.C., M.P., Jagmeet Singh, Burlington and Halton MPs, The Honourable Doug Ford, M.P.P. Premier of Ontario, Andrea Horwath, M.P.P., Steven Del Duca, M.P.P., Mike Schreiner, M.P.P., Burlington and Halton MPP’s, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Ontario Big City Mayor’s Caucus and be made available to the public.

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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