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Quebec Ministry of Justice releases guidelines on face-covering ban

[JURIST] Quebec Minister of Justice and Attorney General Stéphanie Vallée on Tuesday released guidelines [text, PDF, in French] for the implementation of Bill 62 [text, PDF, in French], legislation requiring those who wear face veils to remove them when using public services.

The bill passed by a vote of 66-5 last week [JURIST report] in the Quebec National Assembly [official website]. These guidelines provide further instructions concerning the implementation of the new enacted law.

The guideline describes the law as requiring a staff of an organization covered by the law to exercise his or her functions with the face uncovered. The guideline also describes the law as requiring anyone who requests a service from an organization covered by the law to have their face uncovered when the service is being delivered. Essentially, the guidelines lays out the objectives of Bill 62 as: 1) ensuring quality communication between people 2) facilitating verification of identity, and 3) ensuring safety.

The guidelines clarify that the law is "not intended to govern public space (for example, parks and streets), but rather to supervise the interaction between an employee and a beneficiary during the service. It is part of the government's approach to living together" [machine translation]. The guidelines also give examples clarifying the scope of the face-covering ban, which covers such organizations as educational institutions, transport facilities, health and social services, and public libraries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [official website] stated [Guardian report] on Friday that the federal government will review the implications of Bill 62 stating that it is not the "government's business to tell a woman what she should or shouldn't be wearing." However, Trudeau was cautious in his remarks concerning the course of action to be taken:

The federal government has an obligation to accept the fact that the provinces have a right to pass their own legislation, but as you know full well, as a Liberal, at the federal level, I believe fundamentally in rights, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I will always defend that ... It's not up to the federal government to challenge this, but we will certainly be looking at how this will unfold with full respect for the national assembly.

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