Under the latest law passed by the provincial government of Quebec, anyone with a face covering (niqab) will be banned from receiving or giving public services in the province.
The new NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the law violates human rights.
“I think this is a law that violates human rights,” Singh told reporters on Bill 62. “I’m completely opposed to the bill, but I’m completely confident in the existing protections that are in place in Quebec that will protect human rights.”
The law that was passed on Wednesday, October 18, will take effect from July 1, 2018. Rights groups across the French-speaking province have openly criticised the law saying it unfairly marginalises the Muslim women in Quebec.
People have also voiced concerns over the fact that the law does not specify the type of face coverings that are banned from public sector.
However, the debate around it was mainly focused on the niqab Muslim women wear – a veil that covers everything except their eyes.
The law will particularly affect the public sector employees, which include police officers, teachers, and the daycare and hospital staffs.
Over the years, Quebec has struggled to strike a balance between its growing Muslim population and the province’s secular identity. It’s similar to the course of action taken by France back in 2004, when it banned religious symbols (crosses, veils, etc.) in schools across the country.
Premier Philippe Couillard of Quebec said,
“We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face…We are in a free and democratic society.
You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It’s as simple as that”
On the other hand, the Muslim community in the province is deeply saddened by the new law.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims admitted their concern over the issue and informed that the council is evaluating its legal option regarding it.
Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee, of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said, “This legislation is an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms.”
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.