​A Burkini Ban Won’t Be Coming to Quebec

Of course, at least one Quebec politician has floated the idea.

by Tamara Khandaker
Aug 19 2016, 7:35pm

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The debate over burkinis on French beaches has spilled over into Quebec, but chances of the full body swimsuits being banned here are slim to none.

Earlier this week, Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Nathalie Roy said the burkini "has no place in Quebec, no place in Canada."

"The burkini is meant to hide a woman's body for cultural or religious reasons, as if it were indecent," she told Quebec media. "Neither I nor my party would ever accept it here."

CAQ leader Francois Legault later chimed in, describing the burkini as a symbol of "non-equality between men and women."

The discussion is opening old wounds in a province that became deeply divided when its Parti Quebecois government tried to ban "conspicuous" religious symbols from the public sector two years ago with its controversial Charter of Quebec Values. A highly polarized debate surrounding the Charter preceded the PQ suffering a stunning loss in the provincial election and its leader Pauline Marois resigning.

But that hasn't stopped politicians, like Legault, from weighing in this week.

"It's part of our values here, equality between men and women," said Legault, speaking to mayors in the Laurentians, according to CTV, adding that allowing women to wear them could send a "bad signal" and encourage Islamic extremists.

The Liberal government, meanwhile, has no interest in discussing the burkini, with Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée dismissing it as a non-issue. It's a debate should "remain on the other side of the ocean," she said.

Vallée said she didn't believe the burkini was common in Quebec, but that women should have the right to wear whatever they want, including those who dress "a bit more shockingly as well," CBC reported.

The province's international relations minister Christine St-Pierre, noted that the federal and provincial charter of rights and freedoms would make banning the full body swimsuits "very, very difficult."

Legault's call does have its supporters though.

Echoing the mayor of Cannes last week, Parti Québécois leadership candidate Jean-François Lisée in a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday described the burkini the ultimate expression of female submission.

"We have a sworn enemy, the Islamic State, which is recruiting people here to plant bombs. Our only choice is to debate the ban on the burka before a jihadist uses it to hide [his/her] movements for an attack, or after," he wrote, later clearing up that his concern isn't with the transportation of bombs in burkas, but about face coverings making it difficult for police to identify suspects.

On Thursday, Nice, which was the scene of a terrorist attack last month that left 86 people dead, became the latest city in France to ban the burkini on beaches, with the city's administration issuing an order, citing security concerns.

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