Marois to Use ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ to Protect Charter from Challenge

PQ leader Pauline Marois has promised that a Parti Québécois government will use the notwithstanding clause to protect its proposed secular charter from a court challenge. According to Ms. Marois, it has become necessary to ensure Quebeckers that the secular charter will be enforced in light of growing rumors that the rest of Canada will challenge its validity before the courts.

During her campaign speech for the provincial vote on April 7, Marois discussed the secular charter, commonly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, that to ban wearing of certain religious symbols such as the hijab, the kippa and the crucifix by public servants. She stated that “when we see articles written elsewhere than in Quebec, we get the impression they want to intervene in our campaign….And if we found that the charter would be challenged in court we would invoke the notwithstanding clause.”

The notwithstanding clause was introduced in the Canadian Constitution to allow provinces to override certain Supreme Court of Canada rulings for a five-year renewable period. In case the PQ is elected, Marois alleges that the government would table a revised bill that will include the notwithstanding clause to prevent the risk of losing a court challenge. She alleged that “if the risk was found to be too important we would integrate the notwithstanding clause in the charter before it can be invalidated by the courts” adding that “we saw how our Bill 101 was butchered and we don’t want to take the same chance.”

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