Toronto: Constitutional experts have warned that a proposed law to ban women from wearing face-covering veils on government premises could take the Canadian province of Quebec on a collision course with human rights groups.
“This legislation will probably be considered a breach of human rights. Denying people health care or other government services is such a draconian result, it seems extreme,” The Globe and Mail quoted said Lorraine Weinrib, a professor with the University of Toronto`s law school, as saying.
Weinrib said while the province has the legal right to set standards for appearances and conduct on its property, the planned law to ban niqabs puts it at odds with Canada`s Charter of Rights.
Canada`s Charter came into force in 1982 to preserve a variety of individual rights, such as religious beliefs, minority protections and freedom of speech.
Supreme Court rulings on Charter-related lawsuits have produced dozens of landmark rulings on language, gender, religion and privacy rights.
Disallowing Muslim women to wear niqab would be “discriminating” and “disadvantaging” people on the basis of their religion and gender, Weinrib said.
Robert Leckey, a law professor with McGill University`s law school, said he expects the province will face lawsuits if it proceeds with the legislation.
“Clearly somebody will challenge this. There are freedom of rights issues and issues about discrimination of religion and gender,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see what the lawyers do in framing the challenge to it,” said Michael Behiels, university research chair in Canadian federalism and Constitutional studies at the University of Ottawa.