Montreal police 'open' to officers wearing hijab

While the RCMP has adopted a new uniform policy to allow female Muslim officers to wear the hijab, two of Quebec's major police forces don't have defined positions on the subject.

Montreal police, SQ have no policies on headscarf wearing

Regimental Sergeant Major Rob Patterson of the Calgary Police Service, who oversees officers' dress code, holds a specially designed hijab that can be worn as part of the uniform, although no officers have actually yet worn one. The Montreal police force says it is open to the idea of officers wearing hijabs. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

While the RCMP has adopted a new uniform policy to allow female Muslim officers to wear the hijab, two of Quebec's major police forces don't have defined positions on the subject.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the RCMP adopted its new policy in January.

Montreal police spokesperson Cmdr. Marie-Claude Dandenault said the force has no official policy but is open to the idea.

"Our position has not been established, it's more of a feeling that we're very open to it. We've not received any demands so we've not had to answer that yet," she said.

Dandenault said they are looking into the possibility of using specially made hijabs designed for police officers, similar to those used by other forces.

The force doesn't keep figures on its members' religious beliefs, so it can't be sure how many, or if any, of its 1,459 female officers are Muslim.

Case-by-case basis for the SQ 

Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Lt. Jason Allard said the SQ has no policy regarding officers wearing the hijab.

He said the SQ "will take any request" from an officer wishing to wear the hijab, but he added that the request would still have to be accepted.

The SQ hasn't received any requests from officers to wear a hijab, he said.

Between 2007 and March 2015, the SQ hired 735 new police officers but only five of those hires were from what it calls "cultural communities" — groups that have different national or cultural traditions from the main population.

Allard said the force is encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply.

The Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton police services all have dress codes that allow for the wearing of hijabs.

Earlier this week, Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Nathalie Roy said she doesn't believe police officers in Quebec should be allowed to wear the Islamic head covering while working,

"The Islamic veil only serves to subjugate women and should therefore be banned from the police uniform," she said.