Charter 101

As I understand the PM’s position on face covering at a Citizenship ceremony, it is that the practice is oppressive to women and does not reflect the values of the vast majority of Canadians, even the majority of mainstream Canadian Muslims.
You know, I used to recoil a bit when I saw a person covered like that for purported religious reasons ( still do, a bit). I couldn’t help thinking she was being somehow compelled to do it and it just felt “de trop”.
But you know what? I’ve gotten over it. At the end of the day, unless I have some hard evidence of abuse, it doesn’t hurt me or her or my fellow proud Canadians. Since I believe in respect for diversity and have stopped checking under my bed every night, I am neither insulted nor threatened by niqabs.
I believe that that’s the appropriate approach for a citizen in a democracy.
If it doesn’t risk harm, if it doesn’t cause some unfairness ( e.g. not being able to adjudge credibility in court or to identify a person where that’s relevant) then why not let people observe their customs? Even if some negative result might occur because a person exercises religious rights, is there a way of accommodating that risk before denying them little things like citizenship or their day in court?
I commend to Mr. Harper’s attention the reasons in the Federal Court case about the citizenship oath and the Supreme Court case that set down rules for addressing the expression of religious freedoms. Ishaq v. Ministry of Citizenship, 2015 FC 156 R. v. N.S. [2012] 2 SCR 726
He will find that the reasons in the cases are considered and are based principally on laws enacted by Parliament, laws that reflect the fundamental Canadian values of fairness, tolerance and reasonable compromise.
In any case, all of the above, of course, ignores the fundamental flaw in Mr. Harper’s assertions. We decided in 1982 that the rights of the minority need protection against the overweening attitudes, even values, of the larger crowd.
Another Canadian law expressing Canadian values.


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