CAQ takes issue with RCMP's decision to allow Muslim women to wear hijab

The Coalition Avenir Québec is criticizing the RCMP's decision to allow its officers to wear headscarves. A week ago, the same party came out strongly against the burkini.

'Islamic veil only serves to subjugate women,' says MNA Nathalie Roy

The Mounties have adopted a new uniform policy to allow female Muslim officers to wear the hijab. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A week after coming out against burkini swimsuits, the Coalition Avenir Québec has now taken issue with police officers wearing the hijab.

Quebec's right-leaning party took the stance in reaction to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's announcement Tuesday that it would allow its officers to wear a head scarf if they want.

The RCMP said Wednesday the new policy aims to better reflect diversity in Canadian communities and to encourage more Muslim women to consider the RCMP as a career option.

CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy disagreed with that position, saying "the Islamic veil only serves to subjugate women and should therefore be banned from the police uniform."

It isn't known how many, if any, women Mounties now wear the hijab.

Roy went on further to say that hijabs, like burkinis, are accessories of radical Islam and shouldn't be part of a police department's uniform.

After Toronto and Edmonton, the RCMP is now the third Canadian police service to change its uniform policy to allow its officers to wear the headscarf. (Edmonton Police)

The general principle is that those who represent the authority of the state, primarily the police, should refrain from wearing any religious symbol, Roy said, which falls in line with the CAQ's unyielding position of religious neutrality in the state.

After Toronto and Edmonton, the RCMP is now the third Canadian police service to have such a policy, though they have allowed allowed members of the Sikh religion to wear a turban since the early 1990s.

Internationally, police services in the United Kingdom, Sweden and some U.S. states also have similar policies allowing officers to wear head scarves.

CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy says the hijab has no place in police forces and 'only serves to subjugate women.' (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Position on burkini's softening

Roy also initially came out strongly against the burkini – a swimsuit that covers the legs, arms and torso and also includes a veil.

"Accepting Burkini is to admit that the female body is an object of temptation," she said a week ago.

Now, Roy has somewhat softened her stance, saying that formally prohibiting the body-covering swimwear would be difficult to enforce and would go against Quebec's Charter of Rights.

Quebec politicians have different opinion on the burkini, with some saying women should wear what they want and others saying it should be banned. (Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has said, in reference to burkinis, that women have the right to dress the way they choose.

"People have the right to their beliefs and can dress how they want," said Vallée, adding that includes those who dress "a bit more shockingly as well."

Vallée said she doesn't believe burkinis — whose name combines 'burka' and 'bikini' — are common in Quebec.

With files from Radio-Canada