News, Politics

Quebec’s Bill 62 Bans Face Coverings For Public Workers

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Woman in a niqab

People in Quebec are worried that Muslim women could be denied certain public services, after the government passed a “religious neutrality” bill.

The province’s Bill 62 was passed by the Quebec provincial government on Oct. 18. It says that people who work for the government in certain jobs must have their face uncovered. It also requires people who are using “government services” — for instance, riding a bus or using a library — must do so with their face uncovered.

It also bans “public workers,” like doctors and teachers, from covering their face while they are working.

This could be a big problem for Muslim women who choose to wear a niqab (a religious scarf that covers their face).

For that reason, some people say the bill “discriminates” against Muslim women.

The bill was passed by the Liberals, who are in power in Quebec. The province has seen an attempt at this kind of law before. The previous government in Quebec (the Parti Quebecois) wanted to ban all religious symbols, including face coverings.

The bill was created to create “religious neutrality.” In other words, to get rid of things (like face-coverings) that show whether someone is religious or not religious. In that way, the hope is that people won’t judge one another based on their religion.

However, critics of the bill say that in some ways, it does just the opposite. By banning face coverings, Muslim women have to make a choice between wearing a garment according to their religion–or not using certain public services like a library or transit.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told CBC News that the federal government doesn’t have a say in provincial laws like this one. However, he added that, “If you want to prevent women from being forced to wear a veil, maybe you don’t want to be a society that forces a woman to not wear a veil.”

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly and Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The Prime Minister commented on the legislation that, “If you want to prevent women from being forced to wear a veil, maybe you don’t want to be a society that forces a woman to not wear a veil.”

What do you think he meant by that? Do you think Justin Trudeau is “for” or “against” Bill 62? What, if anything, can he do about it (either way)?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
Before you decide on which side of the issue you stand, make sure you have a background understanding of the niqab. First of all, what is a niqab? Why do some Muslim women wear one? How do they decide if they chose to wear one or not?

Junior
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Intermediate
Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: Em dash (–)
Em dashes are used for three reasons:
1. Shows a change in tone or ideas
2. Shows a separate part of the sentence
3. Adds emphasis

The author, Joyce Grant, uses em dashes in this article. Look at each of the times she uses one and explain the reason why.