ontario news watch

Trudeau says COVID mask-wearing may change Quebecers' opinions on religious symbols

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the habit of wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic might be changing Quebecers’ views on the province’s religious symbols ban.

He was asked about Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, during a news conference today at which he paid tribute to members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., who police say were targeted because of their faith in a deadly attack Sunday.

The Prime Minister repeatedly said he opposes Bill 21 when asked whether he agreed with those who say the Quebec legislation fosters hatred and discrimination.

The law was adopted in June 2019 and prohibits public sector workers who are deemed to be in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs and turbans on the job.

Trudeau said he wouldn’t be surprised if, in the weeks and months to come, there is a change in attitudes in Quebec in part because people have become used to having their faces covered while obtaining services from the state.

Quebec Premier François Legault responded to Trudeau’s comments by saying that Quebecers know the difference between a mask protecting against a virus and “a mask” worn for religious reasons.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press