Mayor Denis Coderre of Montreal, who welcomes thousands of illegal refugees into his city weekly, said he’s not interested in dictating how people dress. He condemns Bill 62, legislation that would require Muslim women to uncover their faces in order to access public services, and says he doesn’t want Montreal to become the “burqa police.”
According to the Globe and Mail: “The public rift opened between the Liberal government of [Quebec Premier] Philippe Couillard and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre over Bill 62, legislation that would ban face coverings for those giving or receiving government services.”
The Globe and Mail says the bill was originally set to be applied only to provincial services. However, an amendment was tabled this week which extended it to municipalities and public-transit authorities.
Although the legislation doesn’t specify Muslim women or wearing a burqa, Mayor Coderre rejected the province’s order which says municipal authorities must enforce the law.
“Are we going to say to the [bus] driver, ‘I’ve become the burqa or niqab police, and I’ll decide who gets on the bus or not?’” Coderre asked during a news conference at Montreal City Hall. “And, if the driver says you can come in, will we have citizens who take the law into their own hands?”
Premier Couillard insists that there will be no municipal exceptions to the law. “This law will apply throughout Quebec,” he told reporters Friday. “We can’t allow Quebec’s biggest city, its metropolis, not [to] be part of the same landscape.”
Couillard said the decision is about “principles.”
“It’s not a matter of dictating to people in Montreal how to dress,” he reportedly said. “We’re just talking about a clear and simple principle: having an uncovered face to give and receive public services, for reasons of communications, identification, and safety.”
In Quebec, politicians reject any public religious expression, including elements of the Muslim culture. They work to maintain a secular image, considering the fact that in the past, citizens felt the Roman Catholic church had too much influence in the region.
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