POLITICS

Quebec will allow provincial correctional officers to wear hijabs

12/20/2011 06:42 EST | Updated 02/19/2012 05:12 EST
MONTREAL - Quebec will allow its correctional officers to wear hijabs — the traditional Muslim headscarf that does not cover the face.

The government will also provide the item of clothing to those who want it.

The decision stems from a settlement reached between the Public Security Department and the provincial human rights commission following a discrimination complaint filed by a Montreal Muslim in 2007.

The commission found that regulations governing uniforms worn by correctional officers, who guard jails and courthouses, are discriminatory.

The Opposition Parti Quebecois criticized the decision, calling it crazy.

PQ spokeswoman Carole Poirier wants to know if allowing the hijab will open the door to wearing a niqab or a burka, which leaves only a slit for the eyes.

She pointed out the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation of cultural communities had recommended that police and corrections officers not wear any religious symbols to preserve neutrality.

Marie-Eve Labranche, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Kathleen Weil, denies there's any contradiction with a law passed in 2010 saying people giving services must do so with their face visible.

Labranche says the government can't stop people from wearing religious symbols because it would violate the provincial and federal charters of rights.