Shame on Québec and Shame on Couillard

As travellers, it’s our duty to speak out against the rise of fascism and improper violence by the state.  This is a short political piece that gives readers insight into the current affairs of Québec, Canada.

If you’re from outside Canada, you may not know about Canada’s recent hullabaloo (nothing against Hullians* though).  Québec had a bill before the provincial legislature, Bill 62An 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. 

That title is a little shocking, I know.

The bill proposed a number of amendments to provincial law, which included some administrative changes.  However, most notably, it included the following:

9. Personnel members of bodies must exercise their functions with their face
uncovered, unless they have to cover their face, in particular because of their
working conditions or because of occupational or task-related requirements.

Similarly, persons receiving services from such personnel members must
have their face uncovered.

An accommodation that involves an adaptation of either of those rules is
possible but must be refused if the refusal is warranted in the context for security
or identification reasons or because of the level of communication required.

On October 18, 2017, the Québec National Assembly voted in favour of Bill 62. 

This was supported by the provincial Liberal Party on a 66-51 vote, with all other parties rejecting the bill (by the way, the federal leader of the Liberal Party, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, refused to denounce the law, brushing off his moral responsibility in favour of division of powers).

Bill 62 is now the law of the land.

Quebec National Assembly (PS. notice the giant cross above the Speaker’s chair? Religious neutrality, eh?) | Wikipedia

People in my city of Montréal gathered in small but widely publicised protests (as a Montrealer does), and students at universities and CEGEP schools quietly protested by wearing masks or sunglasses in class.

Oh ya, I forgot to tell you where the prohibition on face coverings applies, including:

  • Public transit systems
  • Schools, including publicly-funded colleges and universities
  • Hospitals and clinics, including any publicly-funded doctor’s office
  • Libraries
  • Courts
  • Many public-service workplaces, including as an employee

It’s important to understand something about Québec.  It has an Islamophobia problem.  It has a serious problem with mosques being defaced, and a horrific case of a terrorist entering a mosque and killing faith-practising Muslims.  Of course, he is not held as a terrorist by our criminal justice system.

Vigil for Victims for the Attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, a Mosque | Wikipedia

The context of Bill 62 is one born from that putrid thing called hate.  It is directed at the already-marginalised women who wear religious or cultural clothing that obfuscates the face, like a niqab.  It is a fundamentally Islamophobic bill that hides behind the veil of security.  A thorough research of online cases gives us few examples of masked or niqab-wearing criminals.  The veil of security bears no weight.

Quebec Premier, Philippe Couillard | Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press

This law is a violation of our rights as people and as residents of Canada.  It is a clear violation of our Charter and natural rights to religious freedom and freedom from unjust state interference.  And if we are not a society that protects the few from the tyranny of the majority, we cannot claim ourselves as moral.  We must reject racism in all its forms.

* Hull is a city that borders our nation’s capital, Ottawa.  It’s in Quebec.  Hence, “hullabaloo being an offensive term”.


    • You’re suggesting that residents of a country should not propose to change or to decry violations of our fundamental constitutional values? That kind of thinking is not conducive to a free society.

      • Please explain HOW Bill 62 is a ” violations of our fundamental constitutional values?”…
        I say you are wrong on this…

        • A) He’s a lawyer so has a pretty good sense of this
          B) It will be shown once it gets to the Supreme Court when Quebec invokes the Notwithstanding Clause or the law gets nixed completely

  1. I do wonder what is obligatory in Islamic law, niqab or hijab. How do you recognize someone if the face is not to be seen?

    • Why ought your desire to recognize someone be more important than another person’s right to express their religion or culture?

      • I’m pretty sure I specifically included culture in the post. Regardless, I suspect it’s pretty darn hard to decipher the distinction between religion and culture (if there even is one). It’s a cultural custom in Christianity to celebrate Christmas with a tree. If government prohibited that practice, perhaps for the policy goal of limiting tree cutting, you bet there’d be a huge outcry for the violation of religious freedom. Religion and culture are probably one in the same.

  2. Thanks for the post! Yes, the irony of the so called ‘liberal’ societies dictating dress codes and passing legislation aimed a handful of women.

  3. Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live and we should be strive very hard to keep it that way. Bending to demands is the opposite of what should be happening.
    If it is not important to any immigrant to become ‘Canadian’ then they should not be allowed to become citizens.
    As the son of immigrant parents who did not speak English I have seen a glimpse of how difficult it is to arrive in a new country with very little. But i also saw how happy and grateful they were. They worked hard to learn English quickly and expected nothing but a chance to start a new life.
    Why doesn’t this article list the authors name?
    These pro-immigrant, anti-Canadian rants are pathetic.

  4. Wow. Just how long have you been living in Quebec to come to such conclusions? How well do you know what the vast majority of the population thinks to paint such a dire portrait?

    “It’s important to understand something about Québec. It has an Islamophobia problem.”

    Quebec has a problem? Or a tiny minority of the population? Because the vast majority of the population I know, they’re either pro-immigration or they just don’t care. There’s no generalized hate feeling towards any culture or religion.

    “It has a serious problem with mosques being defaced, and a horrific case of a terrorist entering a mosque and killing faith-practising Muslims.”

    Yeah… one very disturbed guy. The whole population was terribly shocked. So I guess you’ll mention Dawson to tell us how Quebec has a gun violence problem. Or FLQ?

    Btw most of what that law implements already exists in France. Nobody calls French racist. And lots of it is just plain common sense. How do you ID someone nowadays? With a picture ID… As far as I know, to enter any country with a passport, you must show your face. I haven’t followed the debate about this particular law, but from what I get from your post, it mainly states other situations in which you need to show your face either to be IDed or to get the appropriate services. It’s all cases of getting IDed, or entering a relationship with a service provider. Either boarding a bus (ID), teaching/being taught, healthcare, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this law is perfect or even good. I’m just not calling everybody racist because the government is trying to set rules to make public services work.

    I’m sorry to say but the only place I see hate is in… your post.

    Better stick to travel, or be a bit more balanced. Nothing is black or white.

  5. Thank you for speaking out DCTA. I’m shocked that the Quebec legislature went this far, and I hope the Supreme Court strikes down Bill 62.

  6. I totally agree with you and thank you for your post. It is a nasty islamophobic piece of legislation masquerading as something to do with security. Canada has never been about the “religious neutrality” that the law says it protects, but about freedom of religion. We are quick to decry countries that force women to cover up in the name of religion, but now Quebec wants to force them to remove face coverings in the spurious name of security. It’s all about power over women’s bodies isn’t it, and not much different. I’m still waiting for a reply from my email to the PM

  7. They came for the Muslims, but I was not a Muslim, so I remained silent.

    Thanks for the post, A. I agree with your every word and with your intent and opinion. Are we angry or sad? We had better be both. They’re coming for us, next.

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