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'A sad day for Canada:' Alberta premier condemns Quebec's face-covering ban

NDP Premier Rachel Notley speaks at Government House in Edmonton on Tuesday, October17, 2017. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says Quebec's new ban doesn't make sense and "smacks of Islamophobia."

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dean Bennett

NDP Premier Rachel Notley speaks at Government House in Edmonton on Tuesday, October17, 2017. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says Quebec's new ban doesn't make sense and "smacks of Islamophobia."

CALGARY — Alberta's premier says Quebec legislation that bans people from providing or receiving public services with their faces covered represents a sad day for Canada.

The controversial religious neutrality bill passed on Wednesday and will apply even while riding the bus.

The law has been criticized for targeting Muslim women, but Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says the legislation was, in his word, "democracy in action."

Speaking after a health ministers meeting in Edmonton, Barrette said the legislation reflects public opinion in Quebec. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the ban doesn't make sense and "smacks of Islamophobia."

Notley says she suspects the legislation doesn't meet the values that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is intended to protect.

She says Alberta takes pride in celebrating diversity and the ban isn't the sort of thing Canadians would support.

"The passage of that bill is a sad day for Canada. I think that it is damaging for marginalized women and it's very unfortunate," Notley said Friday after receiving an award from Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada.

"The only way it holds together logically is if you're in some way trying to move forward with some element of Islamophobia and that's not who we are as Canadians."

Barrette said the bill was passed by a slim margin and those who voted against it did so because they didn't think the legislation went far enough.

"Something had to be done because it was Quebec's situation," he said. "That's the reality.

"We think we did the right thing."

 

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