Quebec's Bill 62
by Garvenski on November 3, 2017 - 6:35pm
In Quebec, women wearing niqabs will be required to uncover their face when receiving public services. Bill 62 was introduced by the Liberal government to end a long debate over religious minorities accommodation. The opposed parties disagreed on the fact that there wasn’t enough restriction on distinct religious symbols. Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée maintain that the bill doesn’t target any religious groups saying that having an uncovered face is for a matter of security, communication and identification despite the title of the law being “An act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality”.
The Liberal government broadened the law’s scope from only provincial to both provincial and municipal. Vallée specified that the law will apply the whole time the person receives the service. For example, they would need to keep their face un covered during the entire trip if they take the bus. Nicole Filion, coordinator of the Ligue des droits et libertés, a human-rights defense that group assert that bill 62 discriminates religious group and women.
During previous debates on wearing religious symbols, an increase in incident involving abuse against Muslim women wearing hijab was observed. Filion adds that the government hasn’t made any clear statement on how the authorities will apply the law or what the consequences will be.
Eve Torres, Quebec representative of the National Council of Canadian Muslim, said that bill 62 doesn’t respect religious freedom and that it will most likely be challenged in court. She continues by saying that after the killing in Quebec City mosque, the government shouldn’t marginalize the minority that already face discrimination and that it creates more exclusion for them. A survey done by Environic institute shows that there are very few Muslim women wearing niqab in Quebec and across Canada.
The issue became important in 2007, during the election campaign in Quebec. Later, in 2013, the Charter of Values prevented public-sector workers for wearing conspicuous religious symbols, but the PQ fell before it came into effect. Quebec is the first province of North America to have such a law. Few countries in Europe have similar laws.
Québec Solidaire’s Amire Khadir criticized the fact that there was a large crucifix in the assembly and that we were banning religious symbols saying that it is not in its place in today’s secular democracy.
Everybody else than the liberals voted against the bill, but it still passed at 66 vs 51.
I think that the Liberals went too far. Briefly discovering your face when entering the bus would be fine but to not be able to put your niqab back for the entire bus trip is excessive. Furthermore, this issue affects only a small group of people, so small that I don’t think that it’s worth voting a law that infringes on their religious liberties. Multiple problems are caused by this law. Who are going to make sure that it is respected? What will the punishment be? What if the person has extenuating circumstances? In my opinion, the government only did that to get rid of the long and complicated debate on religious symbols before the next elections.
Hamilton, Graeme. “Quebec passes bill banning niqab, burka while receiving public services”. National Post. October 18 2017. http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/quebec-passes-bill-62.