Minority Language School Boards and Personal Federalism in Canada — Recent and Ongoing Developments in Quebec


  • Dave Guénette
  • Félix Mathieu




In April 2021, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled on the constitutionality of the Act respecting the laicity of the State (Bill 21).1 In this awaited decision, the Court declared that the controversial ban on the wearing of religious symbols by some specifically designated public employees is consistent with the Constitution — because of the notwithstanding clause — but exempted English-language school boards from its application. Judge Marc-André Blanchard indeed concluded that Bill 21 violates section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter hereafter). According to Blanchard, section 23 grants constitutional rights to linguistic minorities in the management of their schools, as well as the right to establish policies for the hiring, retention and promotion of the personnel of their choice.2.

1 SQ 2019, c 12.
2 Hak v Procureur général du Québec, 2021 QCCS 1466 [Hak].