‘Someone has to speak up’: Calgary mayor reinforces her stance on fight against Quebec’s Bill 21

Calgary’s mayor is standing by her plan to use taxpayer dollars to help fight a legal battle against Quebec’s Bill 21, a piece of legislation that targets religious communities.

Earlier this week, Mayor Jyoti Gondek joined an effort created by Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown to fight against the document, which bans many government workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols on the job.

To that end, Gondek added she would spend city funds to support the legal challenge. It’s suggested the amount would match the $100,000 put forward by Brown in his original proposal.

On Friday, she spoke to the media and said despite the outrage that took place when Quebec passed Bill 21 two years ago, nothing was done.

“You are seeing our nation sending the signal that we think it’s okay to fire people because they wear a hijab. We think it’s perfectly alright in one of our provinces to not let someone with a turban work in the public service. Is that really the message we want to send on behalf of our nation?” she said.

Gondek says it’s important action to be taken against the bill.

“Someone has to speak up. And if that ‘someone’ becomes a coalition of municipalities because we are the closest to our citizens who are outraged by what’s happening, then so be it.”

FORMER COUNCILLOR CALLS MOVE ‘ILLEGAL’

Not everyone is on board with Gondek’s plan to use city funds to fight a legal battle three provinces away.

Former city councillor and past president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities John Schmal sent a letter to the mayor’s office, obtained by CTV News, demanding she forget about Bill 21. He went as far as to suggest the very idea of using public money in such a way is “illegal.”

“Why would the city of Calgary want to get into a scrap with many Quebec municipalities including Quebec City, our sister city?” Schmal wrote.

“How much easier and how much less controversial it would be it would be if you established a charitable foundation for this purpose?”

Two Toronto city councillors have also said they would put forward a motion to support the fight against Quebec’s Bill 21.

Controversy over the legislation began again last week, when a Grade 3 teacher in Chelsea, Que., was fired for wearing a hijab.

(With files from CTV Toronto)

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