POLITICS

Tories Float Idea Of Forcing Women To Unveil To Get Public Services

06/10/2015 03:13 EDT | Updated 06/11/2015 09:59 EDT

OTTAWA — The federal government says it will consider introducing legislation to force members of the public to unveil themselves in order to obtain federal services.

“Canadians would agree that, when you’re either receiving or giving public services, you would have your face uncovered,” Multiculturalism Minister Tim Uppal told reporters.

Uppal was reacting to a new bill introduced by the Liberal government in Quebec that seeks to make public institutions neutral by forcing individuals who deliver or receive provincial services to do so with their face uncovered.

“We broadly in principle agree with the legislation that was presented by the Quebec government today, and we will consider any other measures that may be necessary at a national level,” he said.

Uppal, a practicing Sikh who wears a full beard and a turban, said the federal government would soon introduce a bill to forbid face coverings at citizenship ceremonies despite a Federal Court ruling last February that struck down similar rules.

The Quebec legislation, Bill 62, which was introduced in the National Assembly Wednesday, is a diluted version of the Parti Québécois’s controversial Charter of Values, which barred public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as large crosses or religious headgear. The new bill applies only to face coverings.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told reporters that he had not seen the Quebec bill, but “as always, my deepest concern is around the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and making sure that all Canadians’ rights are respected.”

When the Federal Court struck down the government’s ban on face coverings while taking oaths at citizenship ceremonies, it did not say whether Charter rights had been violated. The court struck down the law on the basis that it violated a regulation that judges allow the greatest possible freedom in administering the oath of citizenship.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government would appeal the decision.

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