Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
A majority of Canadians want to see a referendum on Quebec’s new laws against secularism and banning religious symbols, one of the first by a non-French speaking country, but the Toronto City Council voted down the attempt last night by a 4-1 vote to override the province’s decision.
The vote, during a public consultation on the proposed amendments to the Canada Elections Act, saw three Toronto councillors — Michael Ford, Joe Mihevc and Jim Karygiannis — join with councillors from the French-speaking borough of Laval in opposing proposed amendments that would have allowed voters in the city’s three wards to overturn the province’s decision to ban French language election posters.
“I support the province’s position in this case,” Ford told the council while supporting the “protest” resolution. “We need to protect our democratic process. We’re talking about three wards in Toronto … they’re in one riding, they have all French language signs, they have all French language posters.”
With Ford arguing in favour of a protest resolution rather than changing the law, Councillor Karygiannis, who is the mayor of Laval, then argued that the proposed changes were “contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians.”
The vote followed the vote of Mayor John Tory, who said he would not support the motion because he was worried that the council vote would turn into a political show.
“I support the province’s position, but the province’s position is no matter how I vote, I will be a hypocrite and I will look like a hypocrite to everybody,” Tory told reporters following the vote.
The public consultation on proposed bill amends the Canada Elections Act was held across the province last Thursday and Friday, with representatives from each community invited to speak.
The province of Quebec is expected to bring forward new legislation if it’s approved by the provincial cabinet. The draft legislation, if passed by the legislature, would also be subject to public consultation.