Hon. Serge Joyal: Welcome, minister. Last week on October 18, the National Assembly in Quebec adopted Bill 62: An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies. This is the title of the act.
The next day, the Prime Minister stated that the federal government will take its responsibility will take its responsibility and defend the rights of Canadians wherever they are.
My question is twofold. Has the Prime Minister asked you to study the bill to conclude how that bill is in breach of the Charter? Second, are you ready to recommend to the Prime Minister that the executive council refers the constitutionality of Bill 62 to the Supreme Court for adjudication, avoiding placing the burden on a targeted Canadian to fight his or her way through the court for many years with a cost that will be astronomical?
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: Thank you to the honourable senator. With respect to Bill 62, that was recently passed in the National Assembly in Quebec. I have had the opportunity to speak with many members. I have had the opportunity to speak with the Prime Minister. I will at this time echo the Prime Minister’s comments with respect to Bill 62 in that it is not for any government to say what an individual man or woman should wear and that we, as a government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, will ensure that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our Constitution are upheld in all matters. The diversity that exists in Canada is our greatest strength.
Through conversations with members and certainly through conversations with the Prime Minister and in his words, we will continue to monitor the law in Quebec, its application and potential realities as it proceeds through the process, through the development of guidelines, through the development of regulations. But the Government of Canada will always defend an individual’s rights, as articulated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.