'I should see your face, and you should see mine,' Quebec premier says of new religious neutrality law

A new law that would effectively force Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka to uncover their faces to use public services is based on a principle "the vast majority of Canadians, and not just Quebecers" can agree on, Premier Philippe Couillard said.

The Liberal government's Bill 62 on religious neutrality was passed Wednesday in Quebec's National Assembly. 

"We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face," Couillard told reporters.

"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." 

The law prohibits public workers — including doctors, teachers and daycare employees — as well as those receiving a service from the government from covering their faces. 

It was extended to municipal services, including public transit, in an amendment made in August. 

The Liberals, who hold a majority in provincial parliament, voted in favour of the bill, while all the other parties voted against.

The two main opposition parties, the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, have argued the legislation doesn't go far enough, while civil rights advocates and Muslim groups argue it discriminates against religious minorities.

'Neutrality of the state'

While the niqab and burka are not mentioned in the legislation, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said earlier this week the bill aims to clearly establish the "neutrality of the state."

The bill provides for the possibility of religious accommodation in certain cases, leading critics to question how far reaching it will actually be.

It remains unclear how religious accommodation requests will be evaluated.

The province will work with public services, including municipalities, schools and public daycares, to establish guidelines for how it will be enforced, Vallée said. Those may not be ready until next summer.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who is in the middle of a municipal election campaign, has been an outspoken critic of the bill, accusing the provincial government of overstepping its jurisdiction and ignoring his city's multicultural character.

On Tuesday, he said there are "serious problems" with how it would be applied.

Vallée tabled the legislation in 2015, a year after the Liberals took power.

Religion and identity became a key issue in the last election after the Parti Québécois put forward a contentious proposal for a charter of values, which would have banned public servants from wearing obvious religious symbols.

Liberals accused of 'ugly identity politics'

The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement saying it was "deeply concerned" by the new law and that it "boils down to ugly identity politics" ahead of the 2018 provincial election.

more details

Recent articles

Xiaomi was launched it's budget-friendly smartphone Redmi Note 8 in last month in India, alongside Redmi Note 8 Pro. Now Xiaomi has announced that the Redmi Note 8 smartphone will go for a sale on November 12 in India.

Redmi Note 8

Xiaomi was launched it's budget-friendly smartphone Redmi Note 8 in India last month back. Yesterday Redmi Note 8 went for a sale in Amazon as part of its weekly flash sales. Once again Xiaomi has revealed the Redmi Note 8 next sales date on its website. Read on for all the details about the Redmi Note 8 sales details, including its price in India, specifications, and sale offers.

Best phones under Rs.15,000

Looking for the best 4G smartphones under Rs 15,000 right now? Here we have listed out the best mobiles under Rs 15,000 in India for November 2019 based on their specs, performance, price and more. These are the best phones available in the market right now for this budget.

Galaxy A50s

Samsung Galaxy A30s and Galaxy A50s launched in India in September 2019. Now Both Galaxy A50s and A30s have been received price cut in India.

Best phones under Rs.7,000

Looking to buy a new smartphone under RS.7,000? Here, we'll tell you which smartphones are the best to buy in India right now.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

Xiaomi has finally launched the long-time rumored smartphone Redmi Note 8T in France on Wednesday.

Mi Note 10

Xiaomi has launched its first 108MP Penta camera setup smartphone "Mi CC9 Pro" on November 5 in China. Yesterday it introduced its global version-Mi Note 10 in Spain.

Realme X2 Pro

Realme X2 pro was launched in China last month with the starting price of CNY 2699. Now the Realme X2 Pro is all set to launch on November 20 in India.

Xiaomi's Redmi Note 8 Pro smartphone made its debut in India last month and has been made available for flash sale ever since. Today the Redmi Note 8 Pro is set to go on sale in India at 12PM via Amazon and Mi.com.

Mi Note 10

Xiaomi will unveil the world's first Penta camera setup smartphone "Mi CC9 Pro" in China on November 5. Meanwhile, Xiaomi has officially announced the launch date of Mi Note 10 on its twitter page. The Mi Note 10, which is said to be a global version of Mi CC9 Pro will be launched on November 6 in Madrid, Spain.