The City of Winnipeg doesnt appear set to help fund the legal battle against a Quebec law that bans some public servants from wearing religious garments at work, after challenges in finding the cash.
However, individual council members could still provide their own financial support.
In December, Mayor Brian Bowman raised a motion that council provide up to $100,000 to help fund legal challenges against Bill 21, which are being led by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, World Sikh Organization of Canada, and Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The hope was that we would be able to find a funding source that makes sense… and our budget is so tight right now that it is difficult to find. I think well likely be looking at the discretionary funds available to all members of council, including myself, to see where those that want to financially support the legal challenge can find ways to do so, Bowman told media Wednesday.
A few hours later, the mayor revised the motion to acknowledge members of council may contribute their own support and/or funds to help fight the Quebec law, which the executive policy committee passed unanimously.
While the matter is slated for a council vote, its now unlikely the original intent would succeed.
Bowman said he remains convinced financial support from Winnipeg is warranted.
To hear that a teacher wearing hijab (was transferred out of her classroom) in Quebec, to be removed from the classroom in a such a way, should offend all Canadians. I dont see this as a Quebec issue, I see this as a Canadian issue, he said.
In December, an elementary school teacher in Chelsea, Que., was transferred out of her classroom position because she wears a hijab.
Winnipeg city council officially condemned Bill 21 two years ago, which has been widely deemed discriminatory across Canada. The ban affects a wide variety of religious symbols, including turbans, hijabs and crosses, preventing teachers, police officers, judges and other provincial employees from wearing them at work.
Bowman said he has no doubt all members of council oppose the law.
In December, a Winnipeg member of the World Sikh Organization told the Free Press the funding would address the growing cost of multiple challenges against the bill, which could take years to conclude and may wind up at the Supreme Court.
(The investment) really shows how to be an ally to people of colour. In 2019, the city condemned (Bill 21) and now it (is) time to put those words into action and thats what the leaders have done, Simarpreet Singh said at the time.
Singh could not be reached for further comment Wednesday.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.