Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not “closed the door” on legal action against a Quebec law that cost a teacher her job last week because of her hijab, his office said on Friday.
A Grade 3 teacher in Chelsea, Que., was transferred to a different position under a Quebec law that forbids public sector employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, Wayne Daly, interim chair of the Western Quebec School Board, told Reuters.
He has been inundated with phone calls and emails since, he said, the vast majority opposing the move. In a hand-drawn card posted online by human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby, a Grade 3 student decried the transfer as “not fair.”
Quebec enacted the law in 2019 ostensibly to maintain “laicite” — secularism — in its public service.
The bill, partially upheld by a Quebec court this spring, has been slammed for targeting Muslims, Sikhs and Jews. Federal party leaders demanded an apology during a September federal election debate after the moderator called it discriminatory.
“Nobody in Canada should ever lose their job because of what they wear or their religious beliefs,” Trudeau’s office said in an email.
“We haven’t closed the door on making representation in court in the future,” it added.
Inclusion and Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen told reporters on Thursday it was “premature” to ask the federal government if it plans to oppose the two-year-old law.
In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault says the school board should not have hired a teacher who wore a hijab.
Legault told reporters Friday in Quebec City the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21, has been in place since June 2019 and the Western Quebec School Board should have respected it when hiring.