May 18, 2010
CC: Yolande James, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities
CC: Kathleen Weil, Minister of Justice
CC: Christine St-Pierre Minister of Culture
CC: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
CC: Michael Ignatieff, M.P., Liberal Leader
[CC: YOUR MP]
To the Honorable Premier Jean Charest,
I am writing to express my opposition to Bill 94. I strongly condemn Bill 94, which will deny all public services including essential social services, health care, education and employment to those wearing facial coverings. In particular, this bill will discriminate against Muslim women wearing niqab (face veil) by infringing upon their basic right of religious freedom and their democratic right to full civic participation.
Bill 94 is promoted as legislation that reflects a secular Quebec. However, a secular society does not preclude the freedom of religious expression, which is enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Bill 94 is also touted as a legislated step toward gender equality in Quebec. This cannot be further from the truth. If the rights of women are truly a concern, the government of Quebec should focus on implementing programs to address real gender inequality such as poverty reduction programs and education initiatives. Barring a woman from social services, employment, health and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective way to help her empower herself. Nor will it end gender inequality.
Bill 94 is a clearly discriminatory measure that will target a small number of Muslim women who wear the niqab in Quebec, many of whom are already under the pressure of discrimination in the context of heightened racism and misunderstanding in a post 9-11 world. Now more than ever it is essential that Quebec hold true to its claims of democracy and equality, and find ways to embrace difference rather than to exclude it.
Bill 94 has no place in a democratic society that claims to value women’s autonomy, liberty and justice. A truly democratic society is one in which all individuals have the freedom of expression and a right to access public services.
I will not allow my government to deny essential services to women based on what they wear. I demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately and not passed by the National Assembly of Quebec.
[YOUR TOWN/CITY, YOUR PROVINCE/TERRITORY]