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Ben Fraser is a centre-right student in Journalism at Concordia University.

Why we need Bill 62

Political controversy isn’t new to Québec, and every time a new bill gets passed, the news spreads through all of Canada. The latest piece of legislation comes in the form of Bill 62, a bill which prohibits the use of face-coverings while receiving government services. Naturally, the bill is being criticized as Islamophobic as the Islamic face veil — known as the niqab — is restricted under this ban.

There are fair arguments for opposing the bill. For example, the bill also prohibits riding the bus while having face-coverings. This, I find ridiculous, as it will be difficult to ensure bus drivers will enforce the law. However, unlike some, I look at this bill as an attempt to ensure public safety.

In this day and age, terrorism remains a threat, and as unfortunate as that is, the government needs to be able to identify those who they are serving. I agree with the bill solely for the protection of our government institutions. I wouldn’t feel comfortable as a government employee serving someone I cannot identify. That includes all face-coverings, not just the niqab.

I truly don’t understand those who oppose the bill on the grounds of Islamophobia. It is common knowledge the niqab is not an Islamic requirement. Only those in the extreme sects of Islam support its use. If you want to wear the niqab at home, that is your right. However, in a world where identification can be key to the protection of our society, you can’t have your face covered when dealing with government officials or offices.

This debate is reminiscent of the legal battle in 2015 fought between the then-Conservative government under Stephen Harper, and Zunera Ishaq. Where Ishaq fought and won the right to wear her niqab while being sworn in as a Canadian citizen. I didn’t agree with the verdict then, and I still don’t. I personally believe that the Canadian government is far too liberal in matters like this.

I honestly don’t care what religion you are–Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or any other religion. When you are a part of Canadian culture, you must adapt to certain cultural norms. I don’t like the fact that I can’t wear sunglasses or a hoodie in a bank, but in our world, it is a necessary safety precaution.

Bill 62 will no doubt cause serious controversy for as long as it is law in Québec. Should the federal government challenge the bill, I imagine that Québec will fight tooth and nail to keep it in place.

Truly, I hope that a law like this is no longer needed in the future. Until then, however, the safety of all Canadians needs to take priority over the clothing choices of a few.