Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Niqab issue is a red herring

and it smells of something distasteful. The niqab debate is masking what really matters in this election.  The issues are not about the niqab, turban, hoodies, a cancer wig, facial tattoos or facial make-up for that matter or any other form of clothing that a person may or may not choose to cover their body. They are about a lot more. Let the courts decide and leave everyone else to their opinions, regardless of their political affiliations.

A veiled appeal to racism: the niqab debate

By | Feb 27, 2015

What the hell is the matter with us, anyway?
The prime minister of Canada goes out of his way to criticize the Federal Court of Canada because it permitted a woman to take the oath of citizenship while wearing a niqab, a veil. She made it clear that she would be glad to remove the niqab privately to confirm her identity. But Stephen Harper, whose government intends to appeal the court ruling, says covering one’s face during a citizenship ceremony is “not how we do things here.”
Harper has made this and his proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, into political issues, deliciously timed for a fall election.
I tell you frankly, up front, I think this is not only wrong, but also racist.

It takes me back to 1993, when Legions in British Columbia were refusing to allow Indo-Canadians to celebrate Remembrance Day in their precincts because they were wearing turbans — the excuse being that a turban is a hat and not to remove it in the “presence” of the Queen was unpatriotic.
I suppose that, on the strength of the prime minister’s declaration, we should now refuse to allow Indo-Canadians to take the oath of citizenship unless they take their turbans off.
Where the devil does this stop?

In my time as a lawyer, there were still restrictive covenants on land in British Columbia preventing Asians or Jews from owning it.
Japanese Canadians were not permitted to vote in B.C. elections until 1949 and aboriginal people could not vote in federal elections until 1960. Little wonder that we needed a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
There is an undercurrent of racism in this country. All one needs to do to exploit that racism is to raise suspicions about a very few who are different and visit those suspicions on the whole lot. I accuse Prime Minister Harper of doing precisely that.
There has been a mean streak in the Conservative party for a long time — confined, until Harper’s time, to the far right wing. This was marginalized successfully during the time of Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. I briefly belonged to the Conservatives in my multi-party political career, because I so respected my old friend John Fraser — the former cabinet minister and House of Commons Speaker — and the sort of Tories that were the mainstream of what had become a moderate party with no time for the racist and “hang ’em high” branch in the party. I thought the Tories had changed but I reckoned without the rise of the right under Harper.


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