QUEBEC CITY -- Liberal leader Dominique Anglade is letting Quebecers down by saying she would not renew the notwithstanding clause attached to Bill 21 on secularism, according to Premier François Legault.

Anglade would not defend the controversial clause if she ever becomes premier of Quebec, said Legault Thursday, in a news scrum at the National Assembly.

Bill 21, adopted by the Legault government to proclaim the secular nature of the Quebec state, comes with a notwithstanding clause, which protects it for five years against court decisions. It will expire in 2024.

The leader of the Official Opposition has repeatedly stated that if her party were to take power in 2022, it would not renew the notwithstanding clause, preferring to let the courts decide on the relevance of this law.

Bill 21 prohibits certain government employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, while obliging anyone who offers or receives a government service to have their face uncovered. Anglade has reaffirmed this position in recent days.

"Dominique Anglade has just failed her leadership test. She is incapable of defending the values of Quebecers," Legault said, adding that a "large majority" of Quebecers support Bill 21.

"She's letting Quebecers down," he said.

A Superior Court ruling this week reignited the debate on this sensitive identity issue.

Premier Legault took the opportunity to say that the future bill to promote the French language, which should be tabled by the end of the spring, also had a 'good chance' of being accompanied by an override clause.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021.