Canada: Quebec to vote banning of face veil in public

Sergio Conner
October 18, 2017

Vallee said that the proposed legislation "establishes the neutrality of the Quebec government and its institutions" with the objectives of ensuring effective communication, necessary identification and security.

THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on Wednesday said that is deeply concerned by the Quebec National Assembly's passage of legislation that discriminates against some Muslim women in the province.

"Shane Martinez, a social justice and human rights lawyer believes the bill will pass and called it "sad and ironic" and added "(it) serves to play off of nationalism and exploit ignorance for the sake of political gains, mirroring what's happening south of the border in the USA and a throwback to what happened in France seven years ago" when the European country banned the face veil.

While Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee has said that the proposed rules are about religious neutrality and the notion of "le vivre ensemble", or living together in harmony, critics say the bill unfairly targets Muslim women.

A recent amendment introduced by the provincial government states that the law will also affect muncipalities and public transit.

The law forces citizens to uncover their faces in order to receive or give public services in the French-speaking province.

The proposal known as Bill 62, would ban face coverings when receiving government services, as well as banning public workers from covering their faces.

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Advocacy groups say they will challenge the law in court.

Gardee said: "The NCCM, in partnership with civil society allies, will be looking at all options now including legal avenues to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadian Muslims and, by extension, those of all Canadians". The two main opposition parties, the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, have argued the legislation doesn't go far enough.

The ban will go into effect immediately, but the provincial government has not provided clear guidelines for how public agencies should respond when someone seeks services with their face covered.

Quebec's Bill 62 does not specifically mention the Muslim faith.

"Is this really the most pressing issue before the Quebec electorate in the lead up to the Quebec election (next year)?" he said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Maxime Pedneault-Jobin, the mayor of Gatineau, Quebec, recently told CBC the legislation is "a solution to a problem that doesn't exist except in principle".

"You can not remove fundamental rights if the reasons are not real and urgent and it's impossible to explain that the problem we're trying to solve is either".

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