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Quebecers are heading to the polls in the upcoming October provincial election – but should Canadians outside of the province pay attention to what happens here?

“I think they have a lot more influence than they probably should over what happens in the rest of Canada,” said a resident of Toronto.

Bill 96 protest
Bill 96 protest (Photo: Felisha Adam, CityNews)
bill 21 protest
Bill 21 protest in Montreal on June 11, 2022. (Credit: CityNews/Pamela Pagano)


The incumbent Coalition Avenir Quebec is dominating in the polls and expected to win another majority government – Some Quebecers worry this may lead to Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols for those in a position of authority while on the job – and Bill 96 Quebec’s French language law becoming stronger.

For Canadians outside the province like those in Toronto, another resident shared that while he opposes both Bills he doesn’t see it impacting Ontario anytime soon.

“I do think that most Canadians, they do understand how inclusive and the whole diverse identity of Canada and how important that is to Canada.So I think that a lot of people will work to make sure that everybody is included in that those things don’t spread out to the rest of Canada,” he said.

But for political science professors in British Columbia and Manitoba they say Bills like these could be a concern for everyone in Canada.

Félix Mathieu an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Winnipeg, says “Quebec politics typically have an impact on Canada as a federation as a whole,”
“This has to be of deep concern to people in other provinces,” says Hamish Telford, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Mathieu, says “For Bill 96 and Bill 21, parliamentarians in Quebec not only used the notwithstanding clause against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, but it did so also vis a vis the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedom,”

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault speaks at a news conference during a campaign stop at a senior residence, Tuesday, August 30, 2022 in St-Georges, Quebec. Beauce-Sud candidate Samuel Poulin, centre, and Stephanie Lachance for Bellechasse, look on. Quebecers are going to the polls for a general election on Oct. 3. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jacques Boissinot


For both pieces of legislation the CAQ has used the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom to insure they are protected from court challenges, something Telford says, may normalize its use.

“It’s being entertained now by other governments in other provinces. As a matter of routine and this is very distressing. We have seen evidence of it already. Doug Ford’s government in Ontario has toyed at least with using the notwithstanding clause, as have other provinces,”

He says, it might not be used to push forward the same bills, but the risk of use is there.

“They might use the notwithstanding clause to circumscribe other civil liberties in different sorts of ways, and everyone has to be deeply concerned about that.”

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Should Quebec’s election matter to those outside the province?

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