October 24, 2017 9:09 am
Updated: October 24, 2017 6:25 pm

Quebec minister says ‘person’s choice’ to hide face – but you can be refused services

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée explains how the government's controversial religious neutrality will be implemented to force people to show their faces when receiving public services. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée is providing further details Tuesday about how the government’s controversial Bill 62 will be implemented.

READ MORE: Montrealers cover faces, protest Quebec’s religious neutrality bill

WATCH: Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee clarifies that Bill 62 does not ban Niqabs or prohibit any religious symbols.

The law bans people from giving or receiving public services if their face is covered, except for emergencies.

The legislation has been widely derided, with critics saying it targets Muslim women.

READ MORE: Quebec’s Bill 62 aims to impose religiously neutral public service

WATCH BELOW: Bill 62 will not prohibit face coverings on public transit, says Vallée

It applies to public transit, meaning bus drivers and Metro officials might have to tell people they can’t get on if they don’t show their face.

“There are already procedures in place for bus drivers to intervene if a person refuses to respect the minimum rules to enter a bus,” said Vallée.

“As far as the burden on the bus driver, it’s no different.”

Bill 62 was tabled by Vallée in 2015 and would, in addition to public transit, block access to services, such as health services or classes at a public school or CEGEP.

“It’s normal that, if someone comes with their photo ID and large glasses, that we would ask them to take their glasses off so we can make sure their face matches the ID,” Vallée argued.

 

READ MORE: Will Quebec stop fighting over religious symbols?

Opposition parties voted against the hotly debated Bill 62, saying it doesn’t go far enough and should extend to authority figures like judges and police officers.

WATCH BELOW: Unveiling controversy in Quebec

Anyone affected can apply for religious accommodation, but it is not yet sure what the criteria will be.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec Justice Minister apologizes for Bill 62 confusion

Vallée explained people will have to go to each public service department or organization individually to request accommodation.

READ MORE: Quebec’s religious neutrality bill passes with a vote of 66-51

“It’s all a case-by-case situation,” she said, adding that there will be no fines or sanctions for people who do not abide.

WATCH BELOW: Debating religious neutrality

Some estimate there are about 50 women who cover their faces with a niqab or burqa in the province.

Advocacy groups say they will challenge the law in court.

READ MORE: Quebecers ready to put charter of values to rest

Quebec is the first jurisdiction in North America to ban religious face coverings for public services.

WATCH BELOW: ‘It’s our right to legislate on social issues that are ours”: Vallée on Bill 62

— with files from The Canadian Press

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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