Edmonton council supports action against Bill 21

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Edmonton city council voted Tuesday to support, in principle, the legal challenge against Quebec’s Bill 21.

The controversial bill forbids individuals in certain professions, like lawyers and teachers, from wearing religious symbols during the exercise of their duties and prevents public servants from doing performing the functions of their job with their faces covered or anyone from receiving said services with their faces covered.

The motion for Edmonton city council to support the legal challenge made against the bill was tabled by Coun. Scott McKeen, who emphasized the significance of council taking a stand against the bill.

“What struck me was the plea from the community,” he says of the Oct. 17 executive committee meeting, where council heard from the public on the issue.

“This is more about establishing, by council motion, a community value,” he adds.

Coun. Aaron Paquette commended McKeen for making the motion.

“From a moral standpoint I’m sure it was easy to do, but from a political standpoint, I’m sure it was tricky,” he says. “So I value that.”

Paquette also drew a connection between Canada’s historic treatment of Indigenous peoples and their traditional beliefs and Bill 21.

“Being Indigenous, my family has definitely been affected and understands the impact that a discriminatory law can have,” he says. “I recall stories of regalia and drums and artifacts being destroyed by Indian agents, because, for some reason or another, the expression of culture was deemed to be illegal and maybe even a threat, which is absolutely outrageous.”

The vote was unanimous, though Coun. Tony Caterina was absent from the meeting and therefore unable to vote.

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