Quebec ban on face covering

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The Quebec ban on face covering (included in Bill 62, “An act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies”)[1] made world headlines in October 2017.[2] The bill was passed on October 18, 2017.[1] The ban prevents a person whose face is covered from delivering or receiving a public service.[1] Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée stated that people could seek religious exemption on a "case by case" basis.[3] According to an article in The Economist, the law's "real purpose is to ban Muslim women from wearing niqabs, or face veils, when they provide or receive public services". Some others[who?] feel that the aim of the law is to counter growing use of religious symbolism by Muslim women in Quebec.

The ban has worried some conservative Muslims who consider face covering a necessary part of their religion [4] and have defined the move as islamophobia.[5] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out against it.[6] Several scholars have also criticised the ban.[1] The ban is being challenged by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims in the Quebec Superior Court.[5] Meanwhile, the Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec argue the ban is not extensive enough.[1] Some journalists have accused Quebec premier Philippe Couillard of supporting the ban for “perceived political advantage”.[1] while a majority of the general public expressed their support for this move.[7]

With regards to public opinion, an October 27 Ipsos poll found that 76% of Quebecers backed Bill 62, with 24% opposing it. The same survey found the 68% of Canadians in general supported a law similar to Bill 62 in their part of Canada.[8] An October 27 Angus Reid Institute poll found that 70% Canadians outside of Quebec supported "legislation similar to Bill 62" where they lived in the country, with 30% opposing it.[9]

However, a judge made the decision that the face-covering ban cannot be applicable while analysis by another court, because of irreversible injury it may cause some women of the Muslim faith. Twice since December 2017 a Quebec judge granted an injunction on that section questioned in court by the National Council of Canadian Muslims with the participation of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In the judgment of the court, said section contravenes the freedoms guaranteed by the Quebec and the Canadian charters of human rights and freedoms.[10]

The Quebec Liberal Party government confirmed that it would not appeal that suspension of the key article of its Religious Neutrality Act. The government of Quebec preferred to wait for a judgement on the substance and constitutionality of the law.[11]

If the Quebec Liberal Party government were to be re-elected in the general election on October 1, 2018, Premier Philippe Couillard said he would be ready to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, if necessary, to defend Bill 62.[12] From his previous comments on the matter, Couillard was not likely to preserve the face covering ban by invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[13] Couillard stated that his government, in passing Bill 62, did not use the notwithstanding clause by design, saying that the Supreme Court would probably uphold his government’s limited ban as reasonable and justified.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f M.D. (October 20, 2017). "Quebec's ban on face-coverings risks inflaming inter-communal tensions". The Economist.
  2. ^ "How Quebec's face-covering ban stacks up to laws elsewhere around the globe".
  3. ^ Boissinot, Jacques (24 October 2017). "How will Quebec's Bill 62 work? What we know (and don't) so far". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Quebec bans face covering in public services, raising worries among Muslims" – via The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ a b "Wanting to ban the veil, Quebec bans sunglasses, too". The Economist. November 24, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Kassam, Ashifa (October 20, 2017). "Trudeau on Quebec face-cover ban: not our business to tell women what to wear" – via
  7. ^
  8. ^ Abedi, Maham (October 27, 2017). "68% of Canadians want Quebec's face-coverings ban in their province". Global News. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  9. ^ "Four-in-ten outside Quebec would prohibit women wearing niqabs from receiving government services". Angus Reid. October 27, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
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