The French connection: laicity of the State and religious neutrality in Canada
Since the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, the province of Québec has become increasingly hostile to displays of religious beliefs and affiliations. Major Supreme Court rulings respecting the "religious neutrality" of the State and mandatory ethics and religious culture program in school have come out of Québec cases.
This trend culminated recently with Bill 21 on the Laicity of the State, which bans ostensible religious symbols from large swaths of the provincial public service. The Québec Superior Court upheld the validity of most sections of Bill 21 because of the notwithstanding clause inserted therein; the case is now before the Court of Appeal.
Samuel’s talk will address legal and philosophical issues surrounding Bill 21 and a few high-profile Court cases, and expand on other manifestations of Québec’s growing intolerance to Christianity. He will also comment on the central role of the Catholic church in the history of French Canada, and the impact of the current crisis (scandals, class actions, etc.) on public discourse.
Samuel Bachand spent the first years of his career at Woods LLP, the foremost litigation boutique in Montreal and, prior to joining CJLC, worked at Prévost Fortin D'Aoust with one of Canada's leading constitutional litigators. He has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 2011 and the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) since 2012. He is a law graduate from Osgoode Hall Law School and from Université de Montréal where he taught from 2012 to 2020 as a law lecturer.