Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette believes that Quebec should govern itself according to its own charter of rights and freedoms, rather than that imposed by Ottawa.
Over the past four years, the Legault government has put forward the concept of “collective rights” to justify certain nationalist reforms, even if it means running up against the rights of minorities.
“Since the advent of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everything was about individual rights. Many have denied the existence of the Quebec nation. Many people have denied the collective rights of the Quebec nation. What we are bringing is a rebalancing,” said Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, in an interview with our Parliamentary Office.
Thus, the controversial notwithstanding clause was applied from the outset to the Secularism Act and the reform of Bill 101 in order to protect them from challenges in court.
This approach, new in Quebec politics, has been widely criticized by the PLQ and groups representing minorities, including the English-Montreal School Board.
Review the law
Far from backing down, Mr. Jolin-Barrette recalls that the Lévesque government applied the notwithstanding clause to all of its laws between 1982 and 1985.
For the Minister of Justice, the laws of Quebec should be evaluated according to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, rather than that imposed by Ottawa during the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.
“This [Canadian] Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it was not adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec. So there is a lack of legitimacy, ”he underlines.
When the "Quebec model of living together" or the French language is in danger, "it is not up to the courts to define the moral contract, the contract of living together, it is up to the elected members of the National Assembly to do it ".
The minister therefore wants a “collective conversation” on how to evaluate the laws of Quebec. “I believe that we should govern ourselves according to the Quebec Charter,” he insists.
On the one hand, it was adopted by the elected members of the National Assembly, he recalls. But above all, it has been amended according to Quebec values, in particular to recently incorporate the notion of secularism.
“This discussion, in relation to the use in particular of the provisions of parliamentary sovereignty, is what is being attacked before the courts at the Court of Appeal currently for the Law on secularism, he recalls. So the debate, I believe, will take place. »