Toronto

Ontario MPPs pass Coteau's motion affirming religious freedoms in response to Quebec's Bill 21

The Ontario Legislature on Thursday passed a motion put forward by Michael Coteau, Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, affirming the province’s support of religious diversity in response to Quebec’s Bill 21.

Michael Coteau placed motion before Legislature on Thursday afternoon

The Ontario Legislature passed a motion Thursday from Michael Coteau, Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, affirming the province’s support of religious diversity in response to Quebec’s Bill 21. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

The Ontario Legislature on Thursday passed a motion from Michael Coteau, Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, affirming the province's support of religious diversity in response to Quebec's Bill 21. 

Coteau placed the motion before the province's elected representatives on Thursday afternoon, asking them to affirm their support for religious diversity. 

"I am pleased that all parties could come together to affirm that Ontario is a place that values diversity and stands united in support of our rights and freedoms," said Coteau. 

Coteau's motion stated that Ontario and its government "shall oppose any law that would seek to restrict or limit the religious freedoms of our citizens."

It also states that Ontario's Legislature should "affirm that we value our diversity and assert that we shall promote and protect free expression and the rights of religious minorities," consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

The motion did not specifically mention Quebec's secularism law. 

Motions are not binding, so even though the Legislature had agreed to Coteau's statement, nothing stops this or any future government from introducing a bill that is identical to Quebec's legislation. 

Don Valley East MPP Michael Coteau is running for the Ontario Liberal leadership. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Quebec Premier François Legault's Coalition Avenir Quebec government brought in the bill, which took effect in June, banning teachers and other provincial public employees from displaying any religious symbols at work, including hijabs, turbans and crucifixes.  

Coteau denied he was asking Ontario politicians to interfere in Quebec's business.

"Fighting any form of discrimination is everyone's business, not just Quebec's," Coteau said. "I think it's our duty as MPPs to take positions on issues like this."  

Several city councils outside Quebec have passed motions condemning Bill 21. No provincial legislature has passed a similar motion, although Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister spoke out against the legislation this summer.