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Canada  

Ban burqas on buses?

Quebec's public transportation systems are the latest target in the ongoing debate in the province over religion and identity.

Neither Montreal's transit authority nor unions representing bus and subway drivers wanted to comment Thursday on speculation that women wearing the Islamic niqab or burqa will be prevented from using public transportation.

Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee hasn't been able to answer the question clearly either.

The debate surfaced after Vallee on Tuesday tabled amendments to Bill 62, legislation that sets guidelines for accommodating religious requests in Quebec.

Vallee's bill attempts to enshrine into law the policy that all people giving or receiving a service from the state must do so with their face uncovered.

"As soon as there is an interaction between the state in the citizen, the service has to be offered and received with an uncovered face," she has said about her law, first tabled in 2015.

Tuesday's amendments included language explicitly stating municipalities and public transportation systems would be subject to the proposed accommodation law.

"The objective of the bill is not to prevent people from taking the bus," Vallee said.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has come out against the amendments, saying the provincial government doesn't have the right to tell people how they should dress.



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