I understand why Mayor Jyoti Gondek is excited about her new position as Calgary’s head politician. With a fawning city council dominated by progressive novices, Gondek surely feels she can do nearly anything. Gondek’s initiative to try and battle Quebec’s Bill 21 indicates Calgary’s fledgling mayor has already let the pompous, but official honorific “Her Worship” get to her head. Jyoti Gondek is a mayor and her authority ends at Calgary’s city limits. She would be well served to figure that out fast.

Quebec’s Bill 21 is an odious and discriminatory piece of legislation. The bill bans the wearing of visible religious symbols by public servants in positions of authority, including school teachers. The bill recently made news when Quebec substitute teacher Fatemeh Anvari was removed from classroom teaching due to her wearing a hijab. She was subsequently fired.

The case of Fatemeh Anvari brought to light just how regressive and intolerant Bill 21 is. The bill is an embarrassment to Canada and nothing like it should exist in the developed world. Canadians should all stand up and condemn Bill 21. Federal leaders should continue to try and fight Bill 21. We should all make it clear the majority of the nation does not support this kind of legislated bigotry.

That doesn’t mean municipal leaders should spend tax dollars on legal challenges against Bill 21, however, that’s exactly what Gondek wants to do.

There’s plenty of room for righteous virtue signaling against Bill 21. Indeed, politicians and other people of prominence have been doing so since the inception of the legislation. Aside from vocally condemning the bill and the principles behind it, there is little anybody outside of Quebec’s legislature or Canada’s parliament can do about it.

Bill 21 is in open violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a ruling last April, Justice Marc-André Blanchard of Quebec’s Superior Court declared the bill to be in conflict with the Charter on a number of levels. Blanchard then went on to point out his ruling was little more than symbolic as Quebec’s use of the Notwithstanding clause protects Bill 21 from court challenges. There will surely be more court challenges to this bill but they will all slam against the wall of the Notwithstanding clause.

Undeterred by this legal reality, Gondek wants to spend $100,000 Calgarian tax dollars in order to join Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown in a legal challenge against Bill 21. What an utter waste of money.

Some may dismiss $100,000 as being paltry in the scheme of things considering the size of Calgary’s budget. That is the mark of an irresponsible politician who has no regard for the tax dollars they have been entrusted with. I am certain a number of charities and volunteer groups wouldn’t consider that amount of money to be insignificant. It must be galling to see a mayor thoughtlessly flushing those funds down the toilet on a completely pointless legal action.

Gondek may as well initiate court actions against Russia for its actions against the Ukraine or Japan for their whaling practices. Both nations are worthy of condemnation for their actions but neither give two-hoots what some self-important Canadian mayor may think.

Gondek and her sycophantic new council colleagues are certainly welcome to express opposition to Bill 21 on behalf of Calgarians. They can issue open letters to Quebec leaders and even aid with public letter-writing campaigns if they like. Wasting the time, energy and money on a completely futile court challenge against the bill is pointless and insulting.

Calgary is in the midst of an economic crisis coupled with a pandemic. Skyscrapers sit vacant and idle while addicted street people have taken over the city centre. Citizens are concerned about everything from crime to utility rates to snow removal. These are the issues Mayor Gondek has been tasked to deal with and there is plenty there to keep her busy if she would focus on them.

Being mere months into her term, Calgary’s neophyte mayor is going to have to temper her temptation to try to fix the world from her municipal perch. If she really wants to take on broader national issues, perhaps she should follow her former compatriot George Chahal’s lead and pursue a federal seat with the Liberals. Until then, she should stick to her knitting as a mayor. She has enough to do already.

Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard

Opinion & Broadcast Editor

Cory Morgan is the Opinion & Broadcast Editor of the Western Standard and the Host of ‘Triggered’ based in the Calgary Headquarters. He has worked in independent media and the Alberta oil and gas industry.

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