WATCH: Quebec’s Justice Minister was on the hot seat a day after tabling a neutrality bill that allows religious symbols but bans two types of face coverings, the niqab and the burka. Caroline Plante reports.
QUEBEC CITY — Quebec’s Justice Minister was on the hot seat, one day after tabling a neutrality bill that allows religious symbols but bans two types of face coverings, the niqab and the burka.
“The bill that we presented is respectful of individual beliefs,” said Stéphanie Vallée.
However, the Parti Québécois is asking that Vallée go further and ban the chador from the public service altogether.
“It’s a symbol of female oppression,” argued PQ House Leader Agnès Maltais.
Last year, Premier Philippe Couillard agreed the chador was oppressive, but at the National Assembly Thursday, his Justice Minister said the question was completely hypothetical, since no civil servant in Quebec actually wears such religious garments.
The goal of Bill 62, Vallée repeated, isn’t to rule on clothing, but to help people communicate effectively and safely in the public sector — without favouring nor hindering a person because of their religious beliefs.
The Coalition Avenir Québec said it’s clear that civil servants in positions of authority, such as judges and police officers, should not be allowed to wear religious garb.
“Mr. Speaker, that’s what the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor report recommended,” argued CAQ leader François Legault.
“It represents a consensus in Quebec.”
Vallée said she could eventually make one change: extend the eventual religious neutrality law to municipalities, but only if that’s what those municipalities want.