François Legault to talk Bill 21 with Doug Ford over dinner in Montreal

Quebec Premier François Legault and Ontario Premier Doug Ford to discuss economy, infrastructure as well as Quebec's secularism bill.

Quebec premier says he will share his displeasure with Ontario's motion opposing ban on religious symbols

Quebec Premier François Legault, left, meets with Ontario Premier Doug Ford at Queen's Park, in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be meeting with his Quebec counterpart tonight, and that province's controversial secularism law will be among the topics up for discussion.

Ford said Thursday he and Premier François Legault would be talking "about things that we can agree on" when they dine in Montreal, which would have meant skirting the issue of Bill 21.

But speaking in Quebec City on Friday, Legault said he would share with Ford his displeasure over a recent motion adopted in the Ontario legislature opposing the law, which prohibits some public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

Ford's Progressive Conservatives voted in favour of the Opposition NDP motion this week, and the premier said he has made his feelings on Bill 21 clear.

"I totally disagree with it," Ford said.

"[Legault] knows it. I've stated that numerous times. There's no place for Bill 21 here in Ontario. There never will be under my watch."

Focus on economy, infrastructure

Legault said that Ford already understands his position on Bill 21 as well — and while he will raise his displeasure with the Ontario motion with Ford, that is not his chief concern.

"The priority for Mr. Ford and me is the economy," he said.

"It is going and getting our money in Ottawa, without conditions. So on the most important issues — you know my priority is the economy — we get along very, very well."

Legault said Quebec and Ontario have common grievances, including difficulty securing federal infrastructure funding for public transit projects.

"That's what Doug Ford and I are going to do together, try to convince Mr. Trudeau to let provinces decide what they are going to do with infrastructure programs," Legault said.

"It's the same thing with health transfers — stop putting conditions and bureaucracy. We will present a common front, and we will prepare that tonight at dinner."

Ford joked that energy will likely come up at the dinner table as well, since Legault has made it clear he wants to sell hydroelectricity to Ontario.

The premiers' dinner comes just days ahead of a meeting of all premiers in Toronto on Monday.


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