Quebec’s premier said Tuesday that the government must “draw a line in the sand” on freedom of expression, as he defended legislation under consideration by provincial lawmakers that would restrict Islamic face coverings for women and hateful speech deemed to foment violence.
In an interview with the editorial board of The New York Times, the premier, Philippe Couillard, also asserted that the legislation was far less onerous than measures that had been proposed by the previous provincial administration, which was defeated by his Quebec Liberal Party more than a year ago.
The province has been shaken by fears of homegrown terrorism and radicalized youths. Last month, the police arrested 10 teenagers as they were about to depart Montreal to join jihadist militants in Syria and Turkey. Some were reported to have ties to six Quebecers who had made that journey in January, Canadian news media reported.