Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
OTTAWA — The federal government has been called into question by Ontario’s opposition mayor, who says his municipality supports the province’s controversial Bill 21, the law that bars municipalities from passing by-laws that are perceived as infringing on a province’s charter right to make laws.
Owen Smith, the mayor of Ottawa, says Bill 21, which was passed by the Conservative government in March, is in direct conflict with a province with a longstanding tradition of local control.
“I believe strongly in the separation of church and state but I will defend and honour that in this legislation,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the bill, which the province introduced in March, is “clearly not an infringement on the province’s rights.”
“If Ontario is going to follow the United States and others by making it harder for municipalities, especially in this region, to adopt by-laws to protect their communities, then that’s not in line with our values,” she said in an interview.
The opposition’s position is significant because it could be a major breakthrough in a longstanding provincial battle over whether local or provincial governments have the power to make laws in other provinces. The federal government has resisted the idea of giving Ottawa control of the laws passed in other provinces.
The bill has caused a national uproar, given past instances of Quebec’s law to make public services mandatory in municipalities.
The Liberals, who currently govern Ontario, were elected on the promise to respect the province’s Charter rights — including its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes the rights of religion and expression.
Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard, has promised