Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is looking into the implications of Quebec’s Bill 62, which would require Muslim women wearing a niqab or burka and anyone else using public services to uncover their faces.
“I don’t think it’s the government’s business to tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t be wearing,” said Trudeau while campaigning in Alma, Que., with candidate Richard Hébert ahead of Monday’s byelection.
“As a federal government, we are going to take our responsibility seriously and look carefully at what the implications are.”
When asked if that would include taking the bill to court, Trudeau would only repeat that Ottawa is “looking carefully at the implications.”
- Montreal protesters don surgical masks, scarves over Bill 62 bus restrictions
- Jagmeet Singh hopeful Quebec’s controversial Bill 62 will be overturned
- ‘I should see your face, and you should see mine,’ Quebec premier says
“I will always stand up for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s what Canadians expect of me,” he said.
Trudeau’s Friday comments mark a small shift from his statements Thursday when he said it’s not up to his government to challenge the law.
Protesters lined a bus route on Parc Ave. Friday morning to protest a new law that prohibits people from covering their faces on public transportation. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)
The Conservative Party took a similar stance, saying it’s up to Quebecers to pass judgment on this legislation.
“The Conservative Party believes every Canadian has the right to express themselves and practise their religion, not just in private but in public too,” said Jake Enwright, director of communications for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was quick to condemn the bill after it passed into law.
“I’m completely opposed to the bill, but I am completely confident in the existing protections that are in place in Quebec that will protect human rights,” Singh said, adding he believes the law violates human rights.
“Fundamentally, we can’t have the state telling people what to wear, what not to wear.”
Bill 62, which passed Wednesday and has sparked protests in Montreal, prohibits public-sector workers — including doctors, teachers and daycare employees — from covering their faces. It also obliges anyone seeking public services, including taking public transit, to not shield their faces.
While the niqab and burka are not specifically mentioned in the legislation, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said the bill aims to clearly establish the “neutrality of the state.”
Trudeau on Quebec’s Bill 620:41