Quebec: “gender equality is paramount”, plans to ban niqab.

From The National Post

Quebec bill would ban niqabs to all receiving government services

Graeme Hamilton, National Post Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A proposed Quebec bill would deny accommodations of religious  differences in cases where safety, communications or identification so  require. Phil Noble/Reuters A proposed Quebec bill would deny accommodations of religious differences in cases where safety, communications or identification so require.

MONTREAL — Quebec will refuse all government services, including education and non-emergency health care, to fully veiled Muslim women under legislation tabled on Wednesday in the National Assembly.

Jean Charest, the Liberal Premier, said the bill establishing guidelines for the accommodation of religious minorities is aimed at “drawing a line” to demonstrate that gender equality is a paramount Quebec value.

“If you are someone employed by the state and you deliver a service, you will deliver it with your face uncovered,” he told reporters in Quebec City. “If you are a citizen who receives services, you will receive them with your face uncovered.”

The bill applies to not only government departments and Crown corporations but hospitals, schools, universities and daycare centres that receive funding from the province.

The proposed guidelines in Bill 94 follow an uproar this month over the expulsion of a niqab-wearing woman from French courses after she insisted that male students in her class not see her face. Quebec’s Immigration Department tracked her to a second college where she was studying French and had her expelled again because she would not remove her niqab, a veil that leaves open a slit for the eyes.

“If you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values,” Immigration Minister Yolande James said at the time. “We want to see your face.”

Quebec, which for more than three years has been grappling with the issue of accommodating religious differences, is the first province to take such a stance against the niqab and burka.

In Ontario, women wearing a full veil can make special arrangements to receive government services without exposing their faces to male bureaucrats.

Canada’s chief electoral officer has ruled that under current law, veiled women can cast ballots. In France, on the other hand, President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday pledged to introduce legislation banning outright the full Muslim veil, which he called “contrary to the dignity of women.”

Salam Elmenyawi, head of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said it makes no sense for Quebec legislators to be worrying about a practice that remains marginal.

Of the more than 200,000 Muslims in the province, he estimates that just two dozen wear a full veil. He called it “very troubling and serious” that the government has tailored legislation that “points a finger” at the Muslim community.

2 Replies to “Quebec: “gender equality is paramount”, plans to ban niqab.”

  1. Good For You QUEBEC!! You have had a few years more of this than we have in the west, and it’s great to see that you are willing to make a stand for gender equality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *