There is no way to justify legally the decision by the government in Quebec to proceed with Bill-62, a move to ban the use of face covering by people engaged in public service, or the people receiving it. The Canadian Charter clearly protects religious freedom and that includes freedom of expression. Co-mingling it with the ‘oh so different’ Quebec Charter of a similar name is disingenuous. The national Charter takes precedence. Opposition leaders say the bill will likely be challenged soon in court. So why do it? Laughably the provincial government states it is to make their stance on religion ‘neutral’. Whenever a government goes out of its way to call something neutral, you can bet it’s not. It is an attack on religious freedom plain and simple. In law whenever we talk about new legislation we talk about previous court decisions, or public happenings that make the new laws more palatable. That is known as precedence. However there is no precedence here.
Because the government is not talking about bank robbers wearing ski masks for example. If they were to ban wearing balaclavas in banks we could see the rationale. But the current ban affects mainly Muslim women. And I have yet to hear of a veil wearing lady robbing any bank anywhere. Nor have I heard of anyone wearing such a face covering in the commission of any offence. In short no reason to ban the thing. Quebec has a nasty habit of finding facile reasons to bring on laws that harm individual rights and freedoms. New to the place? Your children must go to a French school, even if you prefer for them to go to an English one. Own a business? Even if it’s an ‘A&W’ the sign has to be in French. Okay, they let that last one by, but you see where this is going. Sikh men have to let their facial hair grow, wear a turban, and carry a dagger. Even with the dagger issue compromises have been made. I don’t see anyone handcuffing the minister of defense, or the leader of the NDP in Ottawa. We are Canadian, we can adapt to a new reality without trampling on religion. At least we like to think so. Because this is a solution to a non-existent problem. An argument could be made, and has been made, that the bill is a protection for women who are forced to wear face scarves, but that is facile. We can think what we like about the rights of women in some religions, but this bill does not help that issue in any way. Instead it is a further human right of some women that is taken away. What could be more of a threat, a man with a dagger, or a woman in a veil? We cannot just tell other people what they can and cannot do. It makes logic and reason stand on their heads. For example, banning of outwardly religious symbols is done to make the ban seem more egalitarian as in Banning the Star of David or the Crucifix. Well intentioned? Maybe, but also stupid. Earlier on in our history we were forbidding native kids to talk in school in their own languages and look how that turned out. It is militancy disguised as neutrality and an affront to so many. If we fear extremism in Canada, we have to insure our governments are not involved in it themselves. And if we truly do not understand women in a veil then maybe we should try talking to them.