Musings —03.27.2010 08:30 PM—
BR Ignatieff Veil
Source: The Canadian Press
Mar 27, 2010 3:13
MONTREAL – Michael Ignatieff is weighing in on the Muslim face-covering debate that’s raging in Quebec.
The federal Liberal leader says he supports controversial legislation that would force veiled women in Quebec to uncover their faces when receiving or delivering public services.
Ignatieff says the bill represents a “good Canadian balance” between religious freedom and equal treatment.
Some Muslim groups and other commentators have harshly denounced the bill, branding it as intolerant.
Ignatieff, however, says it’s “ridiculous” to say that Quebec is more intolerant than other parts of the country.
He says all modern societies are grappling with how to reasonably accommodate cultural and religious differences.
I’m not “grappling” with this one, personally. I don’t agree, at all, with the position that my party – or the governing party – have taken, here. That likely places me in a small minority, but I’m okay with that.
It’s fair to say, however, that I’m also not overly exercised about what Quebec proposes to do: it’s a poorly-drafted law, one that will face (so to speak) an inevitable constitutional challenge. I just cannot foresee such a law surviving a Section Two Charter review – nor it being regarded as particularly reasonable, under a Section One check.
On the other hand – if I am wrong, and I’m often wrong – and the law eludes a Charter challenge, prepare yourself for the inevitable: every kook and bigot with some spare time on his hands may commence litigation against the Sikh’s turban and beard, the Jew’s kippah and the Hasidic Jew’s clothing, the Hindu’s tilak facial markings, the styles favoured by traditional Mennonites and the Amish, or perhaps even the ostentatious display of a nun’s habit. I mean, why not, right? Any one of those things may serve to obscure a person’s identity in some way. Fair’s fair.
There may indeed be occasions when the provision of certain government services reasonably require that we see a person’s face – checking a passport, crossing a border, perhaps even voting when a person’s bona fides can’t otherwise be confirmed. But, say, popping by a government office to pay a parking ticket? Will the new law prohibit that, too?
I think we’re in rather dangerous territory, here, but I’m interested in your thoughts, as always.