A review and analysis of Quebec's controversial Bill 62 As you may have heard, Quebec’s National Assembly adopted Bill 62 on October 18, sparking controversy across the nation. The Bill effectively bans people with facial coverings from using certain public services. Some call it a necessary safety measure, while others see it as an unconstitutional example of systemic racism by others. In order to get to the bottom of this complicated issue, we’re going to take a look at what the Quebec government says it’s trying to do, what it may actually be trying to do, and what that could mean to the people of Quebec and Canada, as a whole.
Quebec's Exclusive History
From the inception of Canada as a nation, Quebec’s ties to the Catholic Church had been strong and clear. This era came to an end in the 1960s with the Quiet Revolution, but some argue that Catholic values still shape the supposedly-secular province. Modern debate about religious neutrality in the province was sparked in the mid-2000s. With the emergence of “reasonable accommodation” discourse, some municipal Quebecois politicians started trying to rule religious (ie. Muslim) customs and garments as unacceptable. The provincial government proposed the Charter of Values in 2013. It was not passed, but, if implemented, the Charter would have restricted what kinds of religious symbols public employees could wear. Today, Quebec publicly identifies as a secular province, yet Catholic influence is still evident. To this day, a crucifix hangs in the National Assembly of Quebec, serving as a symbolic reminder of Catholic presence in the government.
The Law Bill 62 means that those who have facial coverings including niqabs and burkas are faced with the option of removing them or being denied of certain public services. Any time a person may need to use photo identification, this law can potentially come into effect, including:
Picking children up from a public daycare
Interacting with hospital staff
Taking out a book from the library