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Public cash not included in Bill 21 notice of motion coming to Calgary city council

Public cash won’t immediately be a part of an urgent notice of motion on Quebec’s Bill 21 coming to Calgary city council, LiveWire Calgary has learned.

The matter, set to come to Monday’s combined meeting of council, was initially expected to include a contribution of up to $100,000. That money would have gone to a Bill 21 legal challenge with the municipal support being spearheaded by Brampton mayor Patrick Brown.

Bill 21 was proclaimed in Quebec in 2019. It prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, like hijabs and turbans, in the workplace.

The Bill 21 legal challenge is being led by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization of Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Assocation.

FURTHER READING ON BILL 21: Is there room for more than one view of religion in Canada?

A copy of the notice of motion, obtained by LiveWire Calgary, instead suggests that the city endorse the legal challenge against Bill 21.  It also calls for the establishment of a task force to work with local legal and religious communities to look at ways to aid the legal challenge.

City council had previously publicly condemned Bill 21 when it was proclaimed.

Last week, both Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra and Mayor Gondek supported the cash contribution to the legal fund.

“Should we stay in our lane, or should we, for five cents each, do the right thing as Canadians?” Carra said.

The proposed $100K has come under some criticism since it was first brought up Thursday. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been vocal about it, as have Calgarians on social media.

Last week, Mayor Gondek said if the feds won’t step up, then municipalities must.

“If the federal government is not going to do anything to a decision that the provincial government has enforced, without good reason, then maybe it’s time municipalities step up and send the message that we will not tolerate this in our country,” she said.

Potential additional Bill 21 action by proposed task force

The task force could help form a local coalition to aid local non-profits in raising money on behalf of citizens and corporations that want to support the legal effort. That cash could also be used to support local inclusivity initiatives.

It will also inform if the City of Calgary could provide potential matching funds for that effort.

The proposed notice of motion calls for the work to be formalized by the end of Q1 2022. It’s at that point the City could examine funding for the Bill 21 legal challenge.

“The public service and elected officials have an important role in protecting our shared values of tolerance and diversity, and Canadian municipalities have made a commitment to collaborate collectively on behalf of their citizens,” the notice of motion reads.

The item will first need to be approved as an addition to the council agenda before it can be debated.