Protests Planned As New Quebec Law Limits Face Coverings

Lucie Lamarche

You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine.

Members of the National Assembly voted 66-51 to approve the legislation that states, among other things, that anyone seeking to use public services must have their face uncovered.

"We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face", Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters in the province's National Assembly. "It's as simple as that".

The law which came into effect on Wednesday has been slammed by critics who claim it targets Muslim women and will fuel the province's simmering debate on identity, religion and tolerance. "At the same time it's a bill that is clearly stating some guidance with regards to the vivre-ensemble and social cohesion", said Vallée.

As per reports, the law was initially meant to ban face coverings for those offering or receiving services from government departments and provincially funded institutions, such as universities.

The bill also provides for the possibility of religious accommodation in certain cases.


That's not sitting well with many including the union of STM employees which has said it has no interest in enforcing a law banning face coverings.

However Justin Trudeau has indicated that although he respects Quebec officials' ability to create their own laws, he is not personally in favour of the ban.

"We were very careful for the whole process, to be respectful of the rights that are protected in the Charter".

However, Muslim groups and civil rights advocates have denounced the measure, Shingler says.

"This legislation is an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms", said executive director Ihsaan Gardee. Under an amendment made in August, however, the ban was extended to municipal services such as trains and buses.

France became the first European country to officially ban the full-face veil in 2010, while its laws on religious neutrality, like Quebec's bill, ban religious symbols including the burka, hijab and niqab in schools and public service jobs.

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