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Quebec bar condemns premier's comment about independence of judges

Montreal courthouse/Palais de Justice. (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News) Montreal courthouse/Palais de Justice. (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News)

The Quebec bar association on Friday denounced what it calls Premier Francois Legault's "attack" on the independence of federally appointed judges.

The Barreau du Quebec's comments follow Legault's statements Thursday accusing the leader of the Parti Quebecois of prostrating himself before Ottawa regarding a Quebec Court of Appeal decision.

In a unanimous ruling on Feb. 7, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel granted access to Quebec's subsidized daycare spots to the children of asylum seekers, frustrating Legault who said those spaces should be saved for citizens.

During question period on Thursday, Legault said PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has more confidence in Appeal Court judges, who are appointed by the federal government, than he does in the Quebec government.

"He (St-Pierre Plamondon) knows that the judges of the Court of Appeal are named by the federal government and then he says he trusts the Court of Appeal more than the Quebec government to decide whether we're obligated or not to give subsidized daycare services," Legault said.

"It's incredible. Incredible. It's the leader of the PQ who is currently, not on his knees but flat on his stomach, in front of the federal government."

In response, the Quebec bar wrote Friday on the X platform, formerly Twitter, that it's unacceptable for Legault to cast doubt on the independence of judges based on how they're appointed.

"It may be perfectly legitimate to disagree with a court decision, to debate it in public and to use the appeal process provided," the post read.

"But it is not acceptable to attack the impartiality and independence of the courts by insinuating they could be answerable to a level of government."

Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled on Feb. 7 that asylum seekers who hold a valid work permit are entitled to register their children in Quebec's subsidized public daycares, and that refusing them discriminates against women and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Quebec announced this week it would seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that it needs to give citizens priority in a network that is already short almost 37,000 spaces.

"As long as we're not able to offer subsidized child-care services to all Quebecers, we must first offer them to Quebec citizens," Legault told reporters Thursday.

The PQ opposed the move, and says all children should have access to daycare spots regardless of their immigration status.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024. Top Stories


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