About Face

A bill banning the niqab—supported by a majority of Canadians: how did our multicultural, tolerant nation get here?

by Martin Patriquin and Charlie Gillis

About Face

Photograph by Peter Mccabe

Shama Naz, a mother of two young girls who lives in the Montreal suburb of Kirkland, visited the emergency room of the Lakeshore General Hospital last Sunday after her eldest daughter accidentally poked her left eye with a pencil. A native of Pakistan, Naz wears a niqab, a garment worn by some Islamic women that covers the entire face save for the eyes. A few days before, the Quebec government had announced legislation that would force her to remove her niqab to receive any government service; though it isn’t yet law, she wondered half-jokingly whether she would be turned away at the hospital.

She wasn’t. Her niqab stayed in place until she was able to see a doctor; then, as she has done countless times while writing exams, taking passport pictures and going across international borders, she took it off—without the prompting of the doctor, who happened to be a man. “Law or no law, it’s just about common sense,” Naz says. “For me, it’s never been an issue.”

Soon enough, Naz will be compelled by law, not only common sense, to doff her niqab whenever she visits the hospital, goes to school, has her licence renewed, or avails herself of any other service provided or funded by the provincial government. Introduced last week, Bill 94 is the first legislation in North America to place a de facto ban on any religious face coverings in any government building—including within the walls of every government-subsidized high school, CEGEP and university in Quebec.

Quebecers have risen in support of the bill, and in a rare show of national unity rivalling even that seen during the recent Olympics, the rest of the country is largely behind them, according to a recent Angus Reid poll, which found that 95 per cent of Quebecers, and three out of four of non-Quebecers, approved of Bill 94. The issue has brought together the governing Conservatives and the Liberals, both of which were quick to endorse the bill, while even the Bloc Québécois (no friend of the current Quebec government) agreed with certain aspects of the law, albeit tepidly. Even certain Muslim groups praised Bill 94 as an example of moderation.

“Two words: uncovered face,” said Quebec Premier Jean Charest last week, after tabling Bill 94. “The principle is clear.” His national assembly colleagues were even more unequivocal. Cabinet minister Christine St-Pierre called religious face coverings “ambulatory prisons,” while Parti Québécois immigration critic Louise Beaudoin said any religious head coverings, not just the niqab or the more restrictive burka, are examples of “submission of women, of regression, and a subjugation of all our freedoms.” Bill 94, Beaudoin says, is “anemic.” Translation: the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Beyond all the rhetoric is an enduring and familiar narrative playing out across much of the Western world: to what extent religion is to be accommodated by the governments of secular societies. In France, the Sarkozy government is attempting to ban the niqab and burka outright, though the spectre of court challenges will likely cause it to back off somewhat. In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets, the turrets that typically adorn the roofs of mosques—a policy several right-wing parties are considering for the entire EU.

In contrast to these radical measures, Weil says, Quebec’s bill is a “common sense piece of legislation”—a happy medium between what she calls the “pur et dur secularism of France and the Parti Québécois” and carte blanche for every religious whim and practice in state institutions. The bill doesn’t actually mention the niqab or the burka; rather, it mandates that in government institutions, people must, for reasons of “security, communication and identification,” show their face during the delivery of services.

In practice, however, there is little doubt whom this bill targets: the handful of Islamic women in Quebec who wear face coverings as a demonstration of modesty, piety and subservience to God—the only religion in which some practitioners still do so. Many Quebec Muslims feel targeted by the Quebec government, and say the scope of the proposed law is disproportionate to the small number of niqab wearers (estimated to be between 24 and 90 in all of Quebec).

About Face

Photographs by: Jacques Boissinot/CP (Left); De Russe Axelle/ABACAPRESS/CP (Right)

The bill is ripe for a Charter challenge because it potentially violates a fundamental freedom of expression. The issue pits two underpinnings of the Charter of Rights, the freedoms of religion and expression, against Quebec society, which has for the better part of 50 years been wary of any religious encroachment on its institutions. It is a test of Quebec’s policy of secularism—one that remains the pride of many Quebecers, even though a crucifix has adorned the national assembly walls for nearly 75 years and a giant, illuminated version has overlooked the city of Montreal for nearly a century. But this is also a signal change for a country whose self-image is one of acceptance and tolerance. Twenty years after permitting turbans in the national police force, Canada is now overwhelmingly in favour of saying no to niqabs.

Bill 94 is the latest salvo in a long struggle in Quebec over the rights and obligations of immigrants living within its borders. “Reasonable accommodations” became the catchphrase du jour during the 2007 provincial elections, after the town council of Hérouxville enacted a “code of conduct” for immigrants, which along with the banning of the practices of stoning, burning or circumcising women also forbade religious face coverings in public. Hearings into reasonable accommodations were held across the province, and the resulting report, written by regarded Quebec intellectuals Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor, put forward several recommendations—including one that police officers, judges and prison guards be forbidden from wearing any religious symbols. The report also confirmed what Bouchard and Taylor had seen over the months of sometimes rancorous public hearings: “religious adjustments have spawned fears about the most valuable heritage of the Quiet Revolution, in particular gender equality and secularism.”

Bill 94, Justice Minister Kathleen Weil says, is the Quebec government’s first foray into legislating what can and cannot be reasonably accommodated. Weil’s timing, you might say, has been impeccable. The bill comes on the heels of the case of Naema Ahmed, an Egyptian-born mother of three who was removed from her government-subsidized French course by an edict from Quebec’s immigration minister after several conflicts with the professor over her niqab. As well, Quebec’s health insurance board recently put an end to the practice of granting female-only clerks to religious women upon request.

Though Weil insists the bill wasn’t cooked up to capitalize on recent incidents (“It’s been in the works since last November,” she says) the resurgence of reasonable accommodations certainly didn’t hurt her cause, and neither have the poll numbers. “There’s a sense of relief amongst Quebecers,” Weil says. The relief wasn’t only felt in Quebec, it seems. Though several papers chided the province for being what Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui labelled “out of step with the rest of Canada,” the overwhelming majority of Canadians outside of Quebec agreed with the spirit of Bill 94, with support highest in Alberta (82 per cent) and Ontario (77 per cent).

Other surveys point to growing concern over how immigrants adapt to Canadian cultural norms. A series of nationwide polls taken for the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies over the past three years indicates that one out of two people feel newcomers should be urged to give up customs and traditions and become more like the rest of us, up from 36 per cent in 2007. For Mario Canseco, a vice-president with Angus Reid Public Opinion, the breadth of the consensus suggests a turning point: a moment at which Canadians are reaching the limits of our vaunted self-image as tolerant and inclusive. After years of collisions between institutions and the demands of religious minorities, he says, the public portion of the debate increasingly boils down to matters of basic fairness: why should one group be excused from accepted requirements of security, identification and communication, while another is not?

The sentiment partly stems from fear over changing demographics. Factor in the cold math—Canada will need many more immigrants to sustain itself—and it’s a recipe for future controversy. “When you have an influx of people entering the country, and you start having separate ways of dealing with each other, that’s when things get interesting,” says Canseco. “I think we’re at that stage now.”

Does that mean we’re becoming intolerant? Not necessarily. Canseco believes the Quebec legislation is popular in large part because the Charest government framed it in practical matters like security and identification, rather than attacking the religious tradition behind the niqab. In short, they made it sound necessary. That made it easier for people to support it in good conscience.

What isn’t known is whether Canadians really believe these justifications, or whether the real reason for the high approval rating lies in unspoken suspicion of Islamic traditions as they relate to cherished Canadian values such as social order and gender equality. How many women, for example, support the law simply because they believe that face coverings are sexist and retrograde, whatever their roots in Islamic cultures?
Nor can the experts pinpoint the degree to which arguments of “fairness” are playing fig leaf to old-fashioned xenophobia. Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, has cross-referenced individuals’ responses to various poll questions on multiculturalism and found that the less a person likes Muslims, the more likely he is to oppose accommodations for immigrants in general. “It does show there is a risk of stimulating anti-Muslim sentiment with these cases,” he says, “even if [political] leaders don’t hold those sorts of views.” Canadians, Jedwab hastens to add, continue to support the principle of multiculturalism by sizable majorities, unlike populations in some Western European countries.

About Face

Photographs by: Ian Barrett/CP (Right) and Julie Oliver/Ottawa Citizen/ CP (Left)

The question is how long those conditions will hold. A separate poll conducted for the ACS two years ago concluded that the accumulation of reasonable accommodation cases, dating back to the 1990 debate over turbans in the RCMP, has been eroding belief in the notion that multiculturalism can unify through diversity.

In 2001, eight out of 10 Canadians were telling pollsters they thought multiculturalism helped foster Canadians’ sense of identity and citizenship. By 2007—following public uproars over hijabs on the soccer field, kirpans in schools and Muslim prayer sites on university campuses—that number had fallen to 69 per cent. Far from moderating their views once they see accommodations in action, Canadians appear to be getting crankier with each new spat over religious practices. If we still believe in multiculturalism, we believe in a version with limits.

“I detected a long time ago that this bill was going to have consensus across the country,” Weil told Maclean’s recently. “There’s a prudishness in the rest of Canada about talking about these issues. It’s very British. Here in Quebec we can talk about them, and we do.”

Even among Muslims there is no clear consensus on the niqab and burka question, and the debate rages within their society as well. Most Saudi women wear the veil, for example, while the practice is seen as outmoded and strange in Iran, and the niqab is banned in Egypt. “The debate of whether hands and face should be covered is very old,” says Concordia religious studies professor Lynda Clarke. “It dates back to at least the ninth century. There were people who said one should cover one’s face and hands, and others who insist that it wasn’t only unnecessary but that one shouldn’t because it’s not what the scriptures said. The same debate goes on today.” Quebec’s latest position in the debate, though, is “anti-Muslim,” she says. “The damage is not to those few people, but to the image of Quebec. It makes this society look uncivil.”

Nevertheless, one prominent Muslim group is thrilled with the proposed law. “The issue is about security,” says Roksana Nazneen of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “You can’t interact with someone who is invisible. We cannot expect our government to provide parallel services to accommodate only a few.” (Last October, the MCC called for a pan-Canadian ban of “masks, niqabs and the burka in all public dealings,” suggesting such garments were examples of Saudi-inspired Islamic extremism.)

As popular as Bill 94 may be, its true test will be a Charter challenge—something legal experts expect should the bill become law as anticipated. Though Weil says she is “very, very confident that it would withstand a Charter challenge,” Bill 94 encroaches on the freedom of religion and equality rights provisions of the Charter, says Robert Leckey, a constitutional law professor at McGill University. “It’s an issue between Quebec society and newcomers perceived as different,” Leckey says. “The law may seem neutral but it’s clear that there’s a differential impact on practitioners of a particular religion. Why enact this law to clamp down on only one religious group, or a subset of one religious group?”

A Charter challenge, should one arise, would consider the context in which a law was drafted. In Bill 94’s case, Leckey points out, Quebec had just weathered several less-than-congenial encounters with veiled women, including one in which Immigration Minister Yolande James became personally involved. In its attempt to show its Québécois bona fides to the voting public, he says, the government is undermining the validity of its own law.

Indeed, while the proposed law scrupulously avoids any value judgment of the niqab—uncovered faces, it reads, are necessary solely for reasons of security, communication and identification—one of the bill’s key backers used decidedly saucier prose when talking about Islamic face coverings. Christine St-Pierre, who made the comment about “ambulatory prisons,” is the minister responsible for the status of women and was instrumental in the drafting of Bill 94. She has called niqabs and burkas “an attack on women’s rights” and “unacceptable in our society.” “The way it’s written, the law suggests that uncovered faces are for the good for bureaucracy’s sake,” Leckey says. “Calling niqabs ‘ambulatory prisons’ suggests that the law is good for women’s sake.” (Questioned about her colleague’s comments, Weil would only say that St-Pierre “is very, very sensitive to Charter rights.”)

About Face

Photograph by Paul Henry/CP

Banning the niqab in schools will be particularly problematic, several experts says. In matters of education, the proposed law goes further than Bouchard-Taylor: it would restrict niqabs and burkas for both students and teachers, for instance, while the Bouchard-Taylor report recommended a restriction for professors alone.

Leckey says it’s near impossible to make the argument about identification or communication in many of the places where the bill would apply. “You don’t ID people in a library or many other government-funded public spaces,” he says. “In fact, people go to the library to not communicate, except over their cellphones or with the bar-code machines at the exit.”

Of course, the Quebec government could override any unfavourable court ruling simply by invoking the notwithstanding clause, the constitutional tool that gives the provinces a temporary veto over the courts. Quebec used it in 1988 to defend its language rights, and recently threatened to do so again on the issue of French education. Would the province do it again to keep Quebec’s face uncovered? “Oh my, we aren’t there at all,” Weil said. “We have lots and lots of opinions. We really think it’s reasonable.”

Needless to say, Shama Naz doesn’t think the government is being reasonable at all. A graduate of Concordia, she spent years working in a downtown office and never once had a problem over her niqab. She quit to raise her children, and was reconsidering a return to school for another degree—something she won’t likely do if the government legislates the removal of her niqab. “This is where I went to school, this is where I work, this is where I got married, this is where I had children,” she says. “I was heartbroken and shocked, because I didn’t think something like this would happen in Canada, but I’ve moved on from those emotions to something more constructive.”

She may leave Quebec altogether. “I’m not sure of how far this is going to go,” she says, alluding to rumours that the hijab, or head covering, is the next bit of cloth to be targeted by the government. She worries about how the decision will affect her daughters, and whether they will be able to wear the niqab—“if they choose to,” she adds. “It’s very sad, and I don’t know if I’m going to be staying in Quebec with all this drama going on.”

Certainly, if the polls are any indication, at least some Quebecers would be delighted to see the unrepentant wearers of face and head coverings—people like Naz—leave for good. Others may see it as an unintended but unavoidable consequence. “I wouldn’t be happy if some day I find myself in front of a judge who is wearing the hijab,” says Beaudoin, the Péquiste hawk. “They say it’s their choice but I don’t believe it. You know, at the time of slavery there were slaves who didn’t want to be freed, who praised their chains, but that’s not a reason to not abolish slavery.”

Government hearings on the law begin May 18. Between now and then, Weil believes, calmer heads will prevail on both sides, and people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will see Bill 94 for what it is: a moderate, progressive and entirely necessary step for Quebec society. “To those people who are worried, I say: don’t worry, we are a reasonable society, we are going to have an adult conversation about this,” she said. “You’ll see, it’ll be okay.”

About Face

  1. I'm not sure this bill strikes any kind of reasonable compromise. I believe instinctively – and the attitude of Ms. Naz appears to support my instinct – that certain functions require full exposure of the face for security and other identity-essential circumstances as well as common sense situations like meeting with a doctor. However, I am really uncomfortable with the state intruding any further than is necessary into the religious/cultural practices followed by people who come from a different background.

    There appears to be an attitude among those who object to these practices that, as the so-called host people we should not have these things forced down our throats.

    Yet these practices generally do not impact on us in any meaningful way. If you believe the practice is somehow demeaning to women, for example, you are imposing your views on them over an issue that has no material impact. It's not like you are saving them from genital mutilation or honour killings.

    I share the authors' concerns.

    • Some of the stuff will probably be OK, some of it almost certainly unconstitutional.

    • I completely agree. Anything beyond what is necessary for ID or safety purposes is absurd.

      Why don't we ban the crucifix? It could easily be interpreted as a sign of female oppression given Christian history, or of support for pedophilia (if one really wanted to get absurd).

      In my experience, the people who support measures like this one are the same people who criticize Islam for it's "intolerance". Bunch of pots, if you ask me.

    • mostly agreed with Be Rad here. would only go slight further in noting too that in those cases where women are indeed forced to submit to wearing the niqab – which I think is prob not as common as some would have us believe (i.e., not 100% of the time) – this action is only like to further ostracize those women. If there are male figures who are able to exert that kind of force over some women (and their are), I suspect that the easy counter is to simply severely minimize the extent to which they go out in public altogether.

      I think the other side in considering this too is asking how quickly do we think that the practice would more or less naturally erode. My hunch is that this issue is generational and left to its own devices would have faded away rather quickly.

      • I agree with your improvements to my position and with the probability of your second point. Dan Gardner did an excellent article some time ago quoting all sorts of observations that sounded like they were being directed at the Muslim population in Holland. He then revealed that all of the isolationist, "they're different, they don't mix, they are ruining our neighbourhoods, they dress differently from us" stuff was from late 19th, early 20th century sources and were referencing the new Jewish immigrants. Within 2-3 genrations, they had assimilated to a high degree, were found in all levels of society, had moved to the suburbs and were generally regarded as important assets to the community at large.

        The Irish, Italians, Lebanese, Somalis etc.. have all had to fight the same xenophobic stereotyping, have all completely or at least started the assimilation process and have all enriched our culinary (if you count corned beef for the Irish) experience and make for good neighbours and friends.

        • thanks Be Rad. And I suspect that speed with which integration* occurs has only increased since then given the amazing tools and opportunities that we didn't have at out finger tips at that point that allow for great amount of informational and cultural sharing, including but not limited to the internet (increased access to international travel).

          *I prefer the term integration to assimilation precisely because I agree entirely with your point that all sorts of people that were once subjected to the kind of xenophobia you reference have not only become more accepted by simply 'fitting in' but also have added to society in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is, as you mention, in culinary terms. this is not often captured or considered in referencing assimilation.

          • I bow to your improvement in this aspect as well. I should get you to edit me before I post.

          • i am working from great material!

          • You are too kind… (this mutual congratulation business can go on forever)

      • This is a naive view that doesn't take into consideration that Muslims who veil belong to communities of Muslims that successfully keep themselves apart from the larger society in other ways as well. There is in fact a great deal of pressure the opposite way, toward covering the hair with hijab and in a case of one upmanship, full veiling to demonstrate one's greater devoutness.

        Try to think of a single Muslim woman in your office, a store you frequent etc. who has thrown off her veil or hijab instead of the other way around, donning one.

        In Britain, second generation Pakistani Muslims are more devout than their parents, not the expected dilution at all. In every European country there are now self separating Muslim enclaves that are called "no go" areas for non-Muslims, including police.

        Westerners overestimate the attraction of our ways (to people who have come only for economic gain) and underestimate Islam's power as a totalitarian ideology. It is not just a religion like the others.

        I

  2. How long have we listened to this nonsense about the elusive Canadian identity and how this is a multicultural nation? Our identity is not elusive and in practical terms we are not multicultural. Canada is a North American, Anglo Saxon parliamentary democracy with two official languages. Within our society certain practices are unacceptable and intolerable. This is simple common sense. What Canadians are doing is drawing a line. Good for us and about time.

    • Masrk Steyne says we will soon be outnumbered and subject to a Muslim majority. Would you be happy to have your rights subject to majority rules then?

      • You might want to consider that same question. You might want to think about what your life will be like if you are a non Muslim. You might want to think about what your life will be like if you are a woman.

    • How fortunate for you that you happen to be on the side of the line that the majority is on.. for now.

      • How fortunate for you too.

        • No, because I'm not a hypocrite. I happen to like multiculturalism, and can accept other people having different practices and languages.

          So my position remains the same regardless of whether I'm in the majority or not. Somehow I feel that if we weren't in a majority, you'd be crying out for the exact opposite of what you want now.

          • You're not a hypocrite? Really? We'll see. I grew up in a foreign culture. So did my wife. I am what multiculturalists would call an "ethnic". I suspect that multiculturalism is ok by you as long as it's just costumed folk dances and ethnic food festivals, as long as colourful "multicultural communities" abide by Canadian laws and values. But you see, foreign cultures in Canada carry a lot more baggage than you would suspect. They carry loyalties to other countries and other peoples in the world, old hatreds, old rivalries plus attitudes and behaviours some or maybe many of which, I suspect, would be abhorent to you. You should beware what you wish for. I am not of Anglo Saxon origin, far from it, but I am for Canada's Anglo Saxon culture. The fine people of Canada gave me chances I would not have had in the old country.

          • As another ethnic I second this comment and share the respect for the Anglo-Saxon cultural roots that have nourished the best country in the world. Official multiculturalism appears to be weakening this rare foundation for success instead of reinforcing it. Why should Canada become a doormat for people who have left their own flawed countries that have a much poorer record and incomprehensibly start imposing the same cultural practices that made those countries inadequate (e.g. trying to impose on NON-Muslims a religious/sharia requirement that Islam and Muslims cannot be criticized)?

            Canadians who have never known anything but this wonderful country don't understand what a rarity it is and how non-Anglo Saxon cultures have not been nearly as successful in founding countries with the best rights and standard of living for the most people.

            If you don't know from where your good fortune derives, you don't know how to guard it. If you tinker with it at will, you're like a kid who takes apart a clock and has no idea how to put it back together. Multiculturalism is a big fat experiment for which no one voted. If anyone can succeed with it, Canada can, but not by turning itself into a crazy quilt of less successful cultures.

            First and foremost, Canadians show their (friendly) faces. Love of hockey is optional.

  3. Joe C, comparing a mask to a wearing a crucifix or a kippa is rediculous and pathetic. There is NO comparison. One can be hidden (by wearing something or a hat) while the other is barbaric. If these people want to wear a mask (as our friend Mark Stein has pointed out a number of times), do it in your own country, not mine. As a friend of mine said, in this country, you cover your face to rob a bank or protest with the natives.
    Enough is enough. Quebec is right. SHOW YOUR FACE!!!

    • Did you just compare bank robbers to Aboriginals?

    • I agree with these comments …. it is about time that Canadian draw a line of what is acceptable in our country. If those individuals are not in agreement then they can return to their own country or reside elsewhere.

    • Your Country!! Canada is not anyones country, Canda is the country of the people who work and live in it and give to it's society. You might be Born in Canada but i am sure your roots are not from Canada the same like everyone else. Does exposing Faces stopped ppl from doing crimes?
      cover your head or not cover your face or not, that is a personal choice.

      For security reasons yes i agree that it has to be revealed to an authorized person to identify the person.

    • I 100% agree with Joe replied David's YOUR COUNTRY only native of this country is INDIANS not YOU or ANY1 ELSE.

    • There is an underlying assumption that those who wear the niqab pose a security threat, which suggests one of two things, either that women in a niqab are prone to criminal behaviour and activity, or that criminals are likely to adopt the niqab to carry out their crimes . There is no verifiable link between the wearing of full-face veils in Quebec and criminal activity, nor is there a demonstrable connection between the wearing of the niqab and genuine security threats to Government administration and institutions in the province or elsewhere in Canada ….This Bill is disgusting and if it is passed I hope Quebec no longer stays a part of Canada, as we will not be able to call ourselves a multicultural nation!

  4. "A bill banning the niqab—supported by a majority of Canadians: how did our multicultural, tolerant nation get here?"

    Pretty easily actually – it's a direct extension of leftist thinking. If it's ok to ban speech that people find offensive, it's also ok to ban clothing that people find offensive. Canadians have been fed the notion that we have the right not to be offended by others for decades. This is one of the logical consequences.

    Note: I'm in full agreement that people should have to uncover their faces when getting ID'd. I'm also fairly certain this could be done in a way that would accommodate Muslim women: have a woman on hand. We'd do the same for women in general if they had to uncover other parts of their bodies – why not for Muslim women who are uncomfortable with uncovering their faces?

    This bill, however, is not about uncovering for ID purposes. As I understand it It bans the niqab within any public facility. That is grossly wrong and a travesty in a once-free country.

    And to those who say "well, the niqab is a symbol of female subjugation so I'm glad to see it go" consider this: there is no essential difference (other than for ID purposes) between a ban on niqabs and a ban on atheist t-shirt slogans that offend others, crucifixes that offend others, turbans that offend others, Roman collars that offend others, or skullcaps that offend others. Once you make "offensive" the criterion for banning things you make the law a matter of caprice and might-makes-right rather than the rational imposition of minimal protections for individual freedom that it is supposed to be.

    • Your final paragraph is total nonsense. Tolerance too must have its limits, when public safety is concerned. Bravo Quebec for recognizing this as far as the face covering is concerned.

      • You do not appear to have been reading too carefully. Gaunilon is in favour of reasonable expectations of identity security and against excessive intrusion based on subjective criteria.

      • please tell me what precise safety threat this responds to, its prevalence in Canada and if not much trouble some examples would be handy. thanks.

    • While I agree with almost all you have to say, I dispute the leftist thinking notion. I disagree with censoring speech and agree with you that the practice does lead to turn about being fair play, but I disagree that leftists have a franchise monopoly. Any group with a dogma or ideology that treaches any sort of critical mass tends to start contesting the right of others to say things it finds contrary or offensive to their way of thinking.

      Using extreme examples, Stalin and Hitler occupied opposite ends fo the spectrum but shared this common trait. You correctly observe that "leftists" – whatever or whoever they may be – tend to want to override such idealogues as, say, Ann Coulter. But I would suggest that under Bush there were many equally intent on trying to suppress elements critical of his religious, economic and political agenda.

      • Yeah, if we're placing blame along the political spectrum, right wing xenophobia is a much larger cause. The "left" view would be to "educate" people on the equality of gender while allowing people their religious freedom. The "right" view would be to lash out at others for their perceived difference.

      • There is no question that adherents to both ends of the political spectrum have engaged in totalitarian behaviour – that is not in dispute. Likewise there are many on the Right supporting this ban and many on the Left opposed to it.

        The point is that those on the Right who support this ban are doing so without realizing that it violates their principles: individual freedom, limited government, etc. Meanwhile those on the Left who oppose the ban are also not realizing that the ban is a logical extension of their worldview: subsuming of individual rights into the dictates of "social welfare" using government intervention as necessary.

        Ultimately it comes down to this: if individual rights come from an authority higher than men, then men cannot take those rights away by fiat of government. However if individual rights are merely allowances given to individuals by a benevolent state and the majority's decision…well then there is no reason that they can't be taken away by the state and majority rule. The first is the premise underlying everything on the Right. The second is the premise underlying everything on the Left. Neither side is being consistent when they abandon their premise.

        • Regardless of the lucidity of your points regarding banning a veil generally, I think your digging yourself in even deeper in terms of its "left" and "right" aspect.

          • I agree – especially on Gaunilon's notion that the left believe rights are not entrenched and the right do. That doesn't jibe with my experience at all. It may be his, but I would daresay many would assert the exact opposite, which would get us nowhere.

            Left and right these days is not as simplistic a model as it might have been. Is it economic, social, rights, what? And it tends to divide reasoned argument from the very start. For example, I agree with the important parts that he has put forth, yet I'm spending more time than I should trying to weed out this unnecessary divisiveness.

          • I respect the disagreement, but I would ask you to consider this: if someone makes lucid points on matters with which you agree, but nonsensical ones on matters with which you disagree, there are three possibilities:

            (1) they're suffering from bipolar disorder.
            (2) their nonsensical points, while quite possibly wrong, aren't as nonsensical as you think.
            (3) their lucid points, while quite possibly right, are due to random chance.

            Think about it. Is it remotely possible that there is something to this notion concerning a connection between the majority taking away individual rights and the worldview that rights are only granted by the majority?

          • the problem is not what Be Rad agrees with and/or considers reasonable, Gaunilon, the problem is your assertion that the premise that "individual rights are merely allowances given to individuals by a benevolent state and the majority's decision" underpins all actions and beliefs ("everything") on the Left.

            It is a preposterous generalization.

          • Ok, tell me: in your own opinion where do individual rights come from? Who grants them?

          • do you mean the geneology of specific individual rights? or the public policy decision making processes from which rights are formally ascribed? or something else?

            if the baseline is "individual rights are merely allowances given to individuals by a benevolent state and the majority's decision", at a minimum i would say that ignores a number of critical factors inclding but not limited to

            1) legal processes and outcomes,

            2) the roles (including coercion, mimetism, and other normative pressures) of other states and supra-national bodies (as well as the interests they represent)

            3) the dynamics of intra-jurisdictional debate, contestation, negotiation, deal-making among various elements of society (e.g., the electorate, think tanks, government officials)

            and

            4) the dynamics of any sort of change including things like path dependency.

            but i would caution you to derive much of anything from a sample of one.

          • individual rights are granted by the collective

          • I vote 3.

          • People are reasonable about some things and completely unreasonable about others all the time. It's called being human, not bipolar disorder (which clearly doesn't mean what you think it does).

        • I think the right is just tired of always having to appease, appease, appease because of the lefty "multicultural" thing, and then suing us when we don't appease.

          • Would you feel better if someone just said "thanks" on their behalf?

        • Meanwhile those on the Left who oppose the ban are also not realizing that the ban is a logical extension of their worldview

          Is this worldview "written in stone" somewhere, or is it just your view of their worldview?

          …subsuming of individual rights into the dictates of "social welfare" using government intervention as necessary.

          Are you sure that subsuming was the word you wanted to use?

          • Yes, and yes, but I also suspect there is little interest in pursuing either here.

          • My apologies if I seem disinterested…not my intent.

        • The political right: indentifying individual rights coming from an authority higher than men! Pure nonesense!

          What a bunch of balderdash!

          • "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

            Now consider, which side of the spectrum holds that every human being has the right to live regardless of what the majority decides, the right to speak / worship / defend one's self freely regardless of what the majority decides, and the right to pursue happiness (as opposed to the right to have things provided on a platter by the state)?

          • What side of the specturm? The reasonable side. Always!

      • That you say Stalin and Hitler occupied opposite ends of the political spectrum shows you to be very young and/or poorly educated. They are both at the totalitarian left end as the long form of Hitler's party National Socialist etc. should have told you. The Left promotes the short form to hide its involvement. Hitler and Stalin were like minded buddies who signed a non-aggression pact (Molotov-Ribbentrop) that carved up Europe between the two of them until as with all thieves, they had a falling out. When Hitler attacked him, Stalin decided to ally with the West not out of principle but for his own survival. Western leftists were fine with both their rotten totalitarianisms as long as they were co-operating. When Hitler turned on Stalin out of madness for power, not ideological differences which were minor, the Western Left suddenly dubbed Hitler a rightist (for attacking their main pet, communist Russia) and that mis-characterization was repeated as often as the other lies denying the Soviet engineered famine in the Ukraine etc. It became even more necessary to deny one of their own creatures when the full horror of the Holocaust was made public whereas the slaughter and slow torture in the gulags of ten times that number in Soviet Russia was successfully discounted so lefties to this day praise the architects of that mass murder, Marx, Lenin and Stalin, from university lecterns no less.

        You're also wrong about censorship. The vast majority of lefties/statists are in favor of it though they clothe it in nicer sounding terms and are behind all the machinery to effect it in in modern times like the misleadingly named Human Rights Commissions. The vast majority of conservatives support free speech because facts are a conservative's friends. What the extremes at either end think or do is as irrelevant as their small numbers.

        • I apologize for missing your reply and not respnding sooner. I was hanging out on the corner, grinding some rails while skipping school.

          The Web has many links to debate on this question of Hitler as left or right wing. For simplicity's sake, I will quote from Wikipedia, since it has a succinct summary of the debate: "Nazism (Nationalsozialismus, National Socialism) was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany.It was a unique variety of fascism that involved biological racism and anti-Semitism. Nazism presented itself as politically syncretic, incorporating policies, tactics and philosophies from right- and left-wing ideologies; in practice, Nazism was a far right form of politics." So, you can read everything into their party name, or you can assess objectively how they have been portrayed and written about my entire lifetime – which, incidentally, is 50+ years, not 12.

          • For a right wing example whose creds you can't dispute, why not try Ronald Reagan's buddy Pinochet? His first action was to ban all left wing/socialist parties, later extending that ban to all politcal parties. Myu point is that bleatig about left wing and right wing successfully deflects from my main point, which is that censorship is almost always bad, ecpet when it meets a very high test for inciting hatred, violence or contempt.

    • Your main point is being hidden behind a veil of generalizations regarding "The Left" and "The Right", and that's too bad, because your main point is bang on.

      • My main point is the one about the Left and the Right – i.e. two different worldviews with serious consequences attached. This business with banning niqabs is bad, but relatively minor compared to where we'll be if the idea that rights are subject to the whim of the majority is carried through to its logical conclusions.

        Also, it's not a generalization. I'm speaking of the ideologies, not the character of those who espouse these ideologies.

        Ideas have consequences. Pointing out the connection between the two is more important and more illuminating than decrying one particular bad consequence.

        • Oh. Well, that's too bad.

          Isn't it possible to exist in a world that is a blend of ideas from both the left and the right?

          • Sure. I don't care who ideas come from – I only care about whether they're good.
            People on the Left often have good ideas, but Leftism as an ideology is a very bad idea.

          • It also seems to me that we'd have more productive discussions if people came out with reasons for their disagreements rather than just poo-pooing opinions they happen to dislike.

            I agree. Which is why I am so disappointed when otherwise enlightened folks decide to polarize a topic by making a left or right issue. Both sides love to limit freedoms; they just have different reasons for doing so.

            Social progressivism is the reason for womans' lib, and the civil rights movement, and gay rights. If it weren't for the 'left' we'd still have slavery, women wouldn't be people, and sodomy would be punishable by death as blasphemy.

            On the other hand, if it weren't for the right we'd probably never have negotiated NAFTA.

          • Such a silly debate here about "left' versus 'right'. I agree that those terms have really lost most of its meaning, but there is some connection to those terms in relation to the individual versus the collective. But such debate ultimately must centre upon the role of reason. Reason is the ingredient needed for coming to stand in front of the individual versus the collective or the collective versus the individual.

            The division between left and right must be seen coming out of such conundrums: which drives which, the individual driving the collective or the collective driving the individual.

            And then one can start the debate.

          • the individual driving the collective or the collective driving the individual.

            Neither…or both.

          • Well, neither…..or both is an interesting answer. It is true that individualism does not exist without the collective and the collective does not exist without the individual.

            But if you read my post in its entirety, you would have noticed that I inserted the word "reason". And reason can only be with the individual.

            Think about this, for instance: why are underdeveloped nations so strongly in tune with the tribal aspect of being and not so much with the reasonable aspect of being? Try and answer that one.

          • I reread your post…..as it turns out, I wasn't able to – and still can't – figure out what you meant with either of the two sentences that contained "reason". The sentence I replied to seemed clearer.

            Is it reason that will allow us to achieve appropriate balances between the collective and the individual? If so, I'm in favour of reason, and lots of it.

          • When considering individual rights, they must be granted by the collecitve. But the responsibility to such right resides with the individual.

            Only the individual has direct access to reason and thereby direct access to responsibility. The collective cannot stand directly in relation to reason, only indirectly.

            Some will argue in the reverse, that the individual grants rights and the collective is responsible. But it cannot be in that way.

          • I have no further questions. Thanks!!

          • Perhaps I could explain things a bit further since the topic under discussion, the so-called "right' versus "left' and the individual versus the collective pertains not only to this blog topid "About Face", but in fact pertains to all topics within the blogosphere and to all topics being discussed politically, socially, scientically, and yes, even religiously.

            We must aks ourselves what reason means. What is reason? And what does it mean to be "reasonable".

            (continued)

          • When we look at "right" versus "left" we inevitably arrive at the closed circle of the individual in realtion to the collective and the collective in relation to the individual. The one cannot exist without the other.

            Reason, however, inevitably breaks into the closed cirlce.

            Historically, when considering the period of Reformation and the Enlightnement (in close approximation), reason and the meaning of reason takes centre stage. This was not by accident. It was in fact a conitnued gradual progression of mankind. (the printing press, and other noteworthy "inventions" were all part of this gradual progression). Reason then, as coming to the forefront, places the individual centre stage likewise. I would even say that the individual taking centre stage and reason are both cause and effect within a reciprocal circle. (continued)

          • Reason can only exist by going through the individual, Reason is in essence a guidance to our emotions. Human emotions serve a particular "purpose" namely to unte, and our ability to unite in a truly progressive manner, comes about by having reason to guide our emotions. With the help of reason to guide our emotions with, the sense of uniting is thereby significantly enhanced. Such enhanced process I would understand to be true human progress.

            Typically, groups of people with a strong sense of tribalism in tact (strong emphasis on the collective) are overwhelmingly emotional when searching for unity without resorting to reason for guidance. Within the tribal setting, the individualaspect is secondary and so is the aspect of reason. A blind following is often seen within tribal settings.

            (continued)

          • In societal setttings where the individual takes centre stage, reason is also placed centre stage. The tribal aspect, or the collective aspect, is not the driving force: the individual and reason is. This can be seen mostly within the so-called "western world" (there are always exceptions to every rule, of course, and we will find strong individuals within tribal communities as we will find blind followers within the western world. But generally speaking, the western world is marked by emphasis on the individual and reason – combined).

            Now reason, as guidance to our emotions, ultimately leads us to the collective aspect because reason dictates that without the "other" there is no "sefl". Reason therefore, when applied in its inherent purpose, will lead to an enhanced understanding of the collective. As indeed, when the sense of reason is strong within the individual, a sense of the collective will also be stronger.____(continued)____

          • Reasonable people will always aim for a balance between the self and the other, or put differently: reasonable people will always aim to find balance between the individual and the collective.

          • These terms, however, are extremely important to Gaunilon as they're how he manages to self-justify opinions that often have no factual or statistical basis. He's trying to be logical but has gut issues with where pure logic leads because, if we're honest, it can be a bit of a scary place because it provides no moral justifications for things. After all, how can you tell what's "good" and what's "bad" if there isn't some higher power that's defined these things.

            Personally, I just dispense with the notion of any sort of moral superiority and prefer to look at things based on how productive they are.

          • Putting credit where credit is not due on slavery. It was white religious folk (
            Wilbeforce) who started the beginning of the end of slavery. It was a Republican president (Abraham Lincoln) who presided over a Civil War that emancipated slaves in the USA. The most misunderstood part of all was the Democrat Party fighting against civil rights with Ku Klux clan, Dred Scott all on their side of the ledger and the Civil Rights Act passed by a majority of Republicans, not Democrats. Even Al Gore's father voted against it.

            The Left gets credit only for stealing other people's credit.

          • Keep in mind that the Republican and Democratic parties have changed drastically since their inception. My understanding is that they've basically switched places on the political spectrum from where they were during that time.

    • While I agree with the gist of your post, your characterization of liberalism and conservatism (i.e. left and right wing) is completely wrong. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms because of the left wingers in Canada, not the right wingers. This is not inconsistent at all.

      The majority of conservatives love the idea of increased social control from the government (excepting those who are libertarian, who are typically economically conservative but socially liberal, or in traditional terms – they're 100% liberal).

      I think you'd find that a lot of "leftists" (who are not as unified a group as you think) don't support banning offensive speech, so long as it's not an incitement to violence. As well, the idea that this is somehow an extension of those laws is absurd. It's an expression of xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment, not of a political philosophy. Hence the broad-based support across party lines (albeit sometimes qualified support).

      You don't hear conservatives attacking other conservatives or libertarians for the extension of equal rights to homosexuals, the disabled, women, minorities, etc. Those who do attack any of these things go after the so-called "bleeding hearts" who just want everyone to be accepted and for all of us to have a big group hug (i.e. have the government not interfere with our sexual or religious lives, except where there is obvious harm to others involved). Come join us in the group hug, Gaunilon :D

    • In the country where the minority has more rights than a majority the democracy is replace by anarchy! The country as a whole must support majority not bend and accomodate soo… much the minorities. I am immigrant who came to Canada to become Canadian, and my old country culture I practice at home, with my friends, and not impose it on another people.Leave your coulture for yourself or do not come to the country to provoke and immpose your rights. Democracy means everybody have same rights. not white heterosexual man or women is pushed into the corner and have to be so aware of everybody else to not offend them. Stpo bending in front of muslims, homosexuals and other minorities. What they do at their homes it's not mine busines, but don't make me to watch they parades, their burkas ect..
      Multiculturalism is not submission to minorities!!!

  5. Comparing it to little gold icons worn around the neck is beside the point.

    I have no problem when I see an Indian immigrant in a sari — in fact I think they're beautiful, or any other item of clothing or jewellry. They do not obfuscate the person who wears them.

    It's the hiding, the covering of the face and in some cases, the eyes, that are so daunting. Show your face!

    • Do you not see how subjective your concerns are, though? Beauty and the eye of the beholder and all that?

      If Gaunilon's point – which I share – is observed and identity is properly ascertained in necessary circumstances, why should you be allowed to impose your subjective opinion on another any more than they should be allowed to force non-practitioners to cover up?

      • exactly. our we going to have a hierarchy of aesthetics will lines drawn in the sand over what is allowed based on an aesthetic hierarchy. if so the state should be showing up any day to lawn mover my white anglo-saxon bushy beard (though will just find out my bare face is more unfortunate than the beard!).

        while I don't agree with Gaunilon's genealogy of the roots of the problem (at least not in full), I too concur that in the absence of a discernible and uncorrected threat or other identity problem this should be a matter of individual choice.

        • I like the rational, objective approach you, Be-rad, and Gaunilon are taking on this somewhat emotional topic sea-n-m. This kind of dogged persistence is needed to convince more people in our society.

          The article is timely and well written – keep it up Macleans. I'm glad to see the points of view of a number of Muslim women here.

          • thanks for the kind words Janice. I could not agree more that a greater number of us need to be increasingly dogged on this and other issues like it!

            Steve Paiken had an excellent panel the a week or so ago on this issue as well. it had three Muslim women with three distinct points of view. (unfortunately two of them were a bit too knock 'em down, drag 'em out and it somewhat obscured their points, but hearing the three perspectives was nonetheless enlightening.

      • I should have omitted the paragraph about appreciating Indian clothing — it was meant to show I am tolerant and accepting of cultural garb that is different than my own.

        Truly, it's hiding the face that offends me. And my opinion is just that — MY OPINION. Why shouldn't it, as subjective as it may be, be as important as the next Canadian's? It's not malicious or uneducated — just one Canuck's view on something that seems to be infiltrating my society, but that I find offensive. I do see Gaunilon's point — but (s)he's clearly just a better, more accepting person than I am.

  6. If a Muslim woman feels the niqab is demeaning or an infringement on their rights, as a resident of Canada they have the right not to wear it. If someone within their family or religion forces them, they have available the means to seek security and resolution from such persecution.

    If a Muslim women chooses to wear the niqab and does so in a way that does not infringe on the freedom or security of others, apparantly the state now feels it has the right to compel her not to wear it, just because it offends the majority's values.

    Which of these scenarios seems more in keeping with Canada's tradition of an open, free and tolerant society?

    Quebec has always played it both ways between its desire to protect French language and culture rights as a minority in Canada, while suppressing those of minority ethnic communities in Quebec.

    • "If someone forces them" – that has certainly happened and probably continues to happen to women who don't yet know they cannot be forced, , but that is not the main point. And as I understand it – it's only when government services are asked for the a person needs to show their face. That is fair and equal for all – everyone must do the same thing.

    • and bravo for Quebec, finally somebody said enough! why the schools, other students, teachers have to accomodate one person, who wants to cover their face.

  7. Multiculturalism was always sort of a fake Canadian value at the level of individuals opinions. Americans hold similar attitudes towards assimilation as Canadians. For instance, the World Value Survey asks respondents how important various requirements for citizenship are. When asked about the importance of adopting the customs of the home country as a citizenship requirement 59.4% of Americans said "very important, while 58.3% of Canadians said the same.

  8. how did our multicultural, tolerant nation get here?

    Because the media decided to stop reporting about things that actually matter?

    What do I win? Not a subscription to this rag, I hope.

    • given you are a regular around here, you will note where your are reading this story that seems to do just that right?

    • I would respectfully suggest, in that case, that you cease showing up here.

  9. (cont) I welcome people from all over the world, here in Canada and within my own family. But I do think people who wish to immigrate here should follow our mainstream culture and that includes only covering the face on Hallowe'en. And being fluent in one of our two official languages. And possessing some kind of skill that we need, and working and paying into our tax base. And yes, perhaps consciously trying not to offend those of us who have built this country for many decades and generations.

    Also, I've twice nearly been hit by women driving large minivans while wearing elaborate head dresses that clearly mpede their vision. So it's a safety issue, Be rad…

    • "Also, I've twice nearly been hit by women driving large minivans while wearing elaborate head dresses that clearly mpede their vision. So it's a safety issue, Be rad…"

      So long as that kind of consideration is the guiding principle and not subjective but immaterial reaction to something new or unfamiliar, I'm with you. But as soon as you start to impose the latter as a deal breaker, our paths part.

  10. Since covering the face is not a religious requirement, I fail to see the necessity of accommodating that choice (If indeed it is a free choice).

    And I also think that it is demeaning to totally erase one's individuality, although no law can deal with that.

    • It may or may not be a religious requirement or cultural practice, but if the public identity/security aspects are covered, and they appear to be accptable to Ms. Naz, what right do you have to say you are accommodating her in any way, shape or form? Any more, say, than society "accommodated" a woman's choice to wear pants in public?

    • the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] S.C.J. No. 46, 2004 SCC 47 (the "Amselem decision") that it is to be left to the individual to interpret how to follow their religion 'appropriately'.

      • apparently someone does not like the supreme court's ruling on the matter. unfortunate that they don;t rebut the decision or offer any ideas in response.

  11. I think the author of this article summed it up right in the first sentence,
    "common sense over law" Unfortunately we cannot leave common sense on its own for it is a slippery slope. There will always be someone, somewhere to test the limits of common sense, that is why showing your face for a passport or for government services should be required by law. If it is by law, there is no awkwardness, and the justice system protects itself from civil penelties if a there is a case scenario where they have to apply the law.

  12. "What isn't known is whether Canadians really believe these justifications, or whether the real reason for the high approval rating lies in unspoken suspicion of Islamic traditions as they relate to cherished Canadian values such as social order and gender equality."

    Are the writers of this article searching for points of discussion or what's up with accepting that , yes, sometimes things are what they are, namely to find common sense in not covering one's face in public. Period. Has nothing to do with Muslims or anything else.

  13. Roughly 24 to 90 women are seen wearing the nijab. Is it worth the trouble to institute this law?

    Well, let's say only 24 to 90 citizens steal on a regular basis, would it still be worthwhile setting into law that stealing is an offense? I would think so.

  14. Let's ask some basic question: why do the nijab wearing women come to live in countries such as Canada?

    Answer: to find a better future for themselves and their offspring.

    Why do they think they will find a better future here?

    Answer: because our nations are more developed.

    Why are some nations more developed than others?

    Answer: because the people who developed these nations were not, and still are not afraid to read each other's faces.

    There is a tremendous amount of information written upon faces, which are read continuously. That is how the human species interacts and reads into things better, hence further development.

    If the nijab wearing people don't believe this, they should go and have a look at where they came from.

    • Your last answer is complete garbage. The human species interacts by all sorts of means. Seeing as how you're on an internet forum where not even your tone of voice can be determined, I would have expected this to be self-evident.

      • But you are assuming that I think the use of the internet is a positive development for human interactions. I don't think that at all. If humans would solely interact without hearing each other's voices, without seeing each other's faces, like interacting on the internet 100% let's say, our human development would alter significantly. And not necessarily for the better.

        • Sadly, I was just assuming that you think.

          Fine. Counter-example time, I would have thought this was obvious but it seems I need to spell it out.
          You postulate that some nations are more developed than others because the people who developed them were not and are not afraid to read each other's faces. Please explain central Africa and South America and why these areas are not as well developed given that they too are not afraid to read each other's faces.

          Further counter-example. The most developed/civilized culture in history pre-roman were the egyptians. You have perhaps noticed the elaborate headdresses they ceremonially wore? You also realize that living in the desert their faces were often covered so as to prevent dust and sand while living a hard family life?

          These both suggest that you're simply taking prejudices and applying them without actually applying your brain.

          • But who is to say that the uncovered faces in African countries or in any other underdeveloped nation, are capable of reading into faces with enough reason attached?

            As I said, it's the not beiing afraid to read faces which is of importance. The ability to read faces entails more than just looking at the face; it includes processing the information which is done by reasoning.

  15. And so what is left for the legislative branch of our democracy, if the judicial branch will have the finall say on everyting?

    Why can the legislative branch not put into law the banning of nijabs in public places?

    We have laws against driving through a red light. We have laws against walking around naked in public places. Of course such laws can exist without being thrown out by the SCC.

    • It was the legislative branches of our governments that wrote the laws – the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which will likely end up being the basis for challenging this law. Despite what you might think about "activist judges" running our country, they're just interpreting the laws made by our legislators. If they wanted to change the CoR&F to exclude Muslims from the protection of religious expression, they could. Until they do that, the courts pretty much have to strike down any unreasonable bans on religious expression (i.e. a general ban on a religious symbol – I'm not sure that requiring that they show their faces when required for safety or ID would be struck down).

      The point of the courts is to interpret the laws made by legislatures. As much as some may dislike it, the CoR&F is law, and they have to treat it as such.

      • Yeah, I know all of that, the CR&F, the division between legislative and judicial branches, etc.

        But is it not true that there is a law against being naked in public places? Has such law ever been succesfully challenged at the SCC under the CR&F? If so, could you refer me to the case.

        You see, I am still in the understanding that being naked in public places is not permitted. Perhaps 24 to 90 people on average would like to walk around completely naked, and so why not let them?

        • The right to walk around naked isn't covered in the CoR&F, religious freedom is. That's about all there is to say about that.

          • But who is to decide what is and is not religious? What if walking around naked is a precept of my religion?

  16. Would you multi-culti folks support KKK members being allowed to wear their hoods?

    • Hmmm, as much as your Steyn-ian "multi-culti" speak makes me puke, you do raise an interesting point about hoods. I'm very torn on this issue, but it'd be interesting to see if those against this law would support me (and I'm truly being serious here) if I decided to wear a balaclava in public all day, every day for the rest of my life.

      • too sweaty

      • Already illegal. Try it. You will be arrested.

    • Hahahaha ur joking right… First of all KKK memebers r RACIST and haters and no one should support them to wear their hoods. I think there should be a law against them instead of the niqab one. atleast muslim ppl rnt racist. Y dont the KKK memebers jus go and find an island away from the rest of the world and jus live there with there stupid hate or should i say "jealousy" against others races/colour. Im sayin this only cuz they r the ones with the hatred towards others so they should all jus leave if its such a big problem and start their own island. and get out of our way…Thanx

  17. Sooner or later a line has to be drawn in the sand and we are way past that point. Bleeding hearts have gotten us into some incredibly stupid situations. At the risk of sounding racist, they can always go back to where they came from. How come it is only Christian nations that have to accommodate others. You don't seen Muslim countries accommodating christian women. Japan ain't about to allow multi-culti immigration. Christians and those who have fallen off the wagon are the only ones on the face of the earth pretending to be something they are not. Phonies to the extreme.

    • We're not a Christian nation. We're a secular democracy and a nation of immigrants.

      Hell, there are way more Catholics than Protestants in Canada. Why do the bleeding hearts in the Catholic majority let that minority group practice their religion? Why should they have to accommodate their churches, TV shows, door-to-door preachers, etc. They should ship them all back to where they came from.

      If we behave in the way you and others here have suggested, then we're not really so different from the intolerant Middle-Eastern countries, are we? The fact that we treat our minorities with a reasonable amount of respect is what makes our country better than theirs. It's why I'm proud to live here, and why I'd never want to live there.

      I'm curious to know what these stupid situations that us "bleeding hearts" have gotten us into are.

      (Japan doesn't allow immigration like we do for a pretty simple reason: they're an over-populated island. It's really not a valid comparison)

  18. Concealing one's face is generally interpreted as trying to hide one's identity in order to do something shameful or harmful without risk of public disapproval. My reservation about people covering their faces in public has nothing to do with cultural or religious practices; it has to do with the fact that we rely upon the face more than anything else to identify people, and that facial expressions represent nonverbal communication that can reveal more about someone than their words.

  19. I thought this would happen someday, even though I hoped it won't. Canada is taking the first step into making sure it will never be like the US: a country where most children born are not of direct pure European decent, and a country that is headed to where those of pure white, non-Hispanic stock are a minority.

    I expect that immigration quotes will be lowered, and other measures taken to make sure that multi-cultural will continue to mean French and English, not people of color being accepted as people with real voting power.

    For all it's faults, the US is multi-cultural. California and Texas (each of which have populations similar to Canada) now have non-Hispanic whites as the biggest minority. Having lived in Texas; I can say with certainty that there's some grumbling among whites, but it's really no big deal. Canada will be like Europe: it will die out before becoming brown.

    • The US is not multi cultural. It is about integration, the "melting pot" and a belief of all citizens in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Canada is about immigrants keeping any and all of their beliefs, culture and way of life. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are meaningless conglomerations of social engineering pap that give no direction to immigrants, who when told to become Canadian ask "what is a Canadian". They never ask what is an American.

  20. I agree with Cash.

  21. As a woman, whenever I am patted down at the airport for security reasons it has always been done by another woman. I don't see why this can't be the case for Muslim women uncovering their face. I believe in the case of Quebec health cards, Muslim women had to wait until a woman clerk was available so they weren't in anyway infringing on the rights of the other people in line.

    For ID photos, going to the doctor and even to some limited extend educational purposes it makes sense to require faces to be uncovered, but not to the extent that this bill will allow. For example, what does it add to society or security to force a woman to uncover her face as soon as she enters the licensing office, or as she sits in a lecture hall in a university?

    • Why do we want immigrants who cover their faces? The law should not allow women or men to cover their faces anywhere in a public place. As a woman why aren't you asking where this face covering originates? It has nothing to do with modesty. Or does Islam's subjugation of women, its honour killings, forced marriage of children to old men and prescribed methods of beating wives not worth finding out about?

      • Your knowledge of Islam is as extensive as a CNN video clip.

    • what add it to the society? this that i will feel more comfortable passing on this hall person who has uncoverd her face. Why I don't have the right!? Why them? is this one way equality? Everybody are equal but minority are more equal! true! fact!

  22. Continued –
    If people are worried about security then why aren't we banning large sunglasses and baseball caps as a combination – they also obscure faces, or wearing balaclavas in the winter, can't see faces there either. No one ever asks you to remove those things as soon as you enter a government building but they do ask when you need to be identified, why not the same consideration for a niqab or burka.

    You don't have to agree that woman need to cover their face, just like you don't have to agree that a bikini is too little clothing to be worn in public, but don't begrudge other people their level of modesty. I certainly won't appreciate it if the new standard was that I would have to wear a bikini every time I used a publicly funded pool or beach. The general public doesn't have a right to see parts of people's bodies that they don't want to show.

    • Are you so stupid as to believe women covering their face is about modesty? How about when you're a woman who doesn't and you get beaten to death for dishonouring your husband? This is about a backward violent religion, that when its members get sufficient in number in any country have always ended up demanding not asking for Sharia and killing people who resist.

    • Are you so stupid as to believe women covering their face is about modesty? How about when you're a woman who doesn't and you get beaten to death for dishonouring your husband? This is about a backward violent religion, that when its members get sufficient in number in any country have always ended up demanding not asking for Sharia and killing people who resist.

      • The point Robin is that the reason for the ban is "security" related. The Quebec govt is arguing that they cannot see the faces of the people wearing the veils and therefore it is problematic. They are supposedly not commenting on the oppressiveness of the clothing or the religion…that would controvene the person's rights under the charter. In my opinion, Quebec has never been too interested in protecting multi-culteralism – hence the language laws. I think they are happy to have as many new immigrants as possible flee the province. It didn't seem to bother them a bit when many head offices moved out of Montreal and headed to Calgary due to Quebec's poor treatment of English speaking citizens. I wouldn't get too excited if I were the rest of you that the other provinces will follow suit and ban the niijab and burkas. Despite the supposed poll results, Canadians are much more level headed in the rest of the country.

        • The veil isn't about modesty or security, the veil is about Islam and how women are oppressed in Islam. You just don't get it, do you. We need to keep these people out of Canada.

          From the moderate Muslim (religion of peace) camp:

          "A man who killed his wife by using her veil to strangle her in their Melbourne home did so in the belief he was entitled to dominate her, a Supreme Court judge has found.Soltan Azizi was today sentenced to 22 years' jail by Justice Betty King.

          Justice King said Ms Rahimi had sought help from social workers and was intending to leave Azizi, despite him warning that he would kill her if she tried.Azizi had complained to Ms Rahimi's sister in the days prior to her killing that his wife was becoming "too Australian", meaning "she was not a docile and good wife in the terms you expected her to be".

          The couple, who had five children now aged from 14 to 2, came to Australia in 2005 after fleeing Afghanistan and spending seven years in refugee camps in Iran."

  23. Would anyone have thought to enact such a law if it were men wearing the face coverings? Why does there seem to be a constant debate in society about what WOMEN should and shouldn't do? *Sigh* buzz off already, why can't I be as free as a man? Anyone who says women are is kidding themselves.

    • If it were men trying to wear face coverings the law would already be enacted and there would most likely be heavy jail sentences associated with it as this would surely be seen as a threat to women's safety.

      • lol men are the ones who make and pass laws. If men wanted to wear face covering they would be able to wear them. The reason why women always seem to be in the spotlight when it comes to inequality is because men are trying to dominate (as usual).

  24. Canada ,the multi-cultural, arrived here by allowing its chattering classes to over do multi-culturalism.Everything has its natural and rational limits and when a society is expected to sustain nonsense that ranges from arranged marriages to honour killings under the guise of tolerance and multi-culturalism ,a backlash such as this should have been expected a long time ago.As a nation of immigrants we accept people who wish to live here from all over the world although we have no obligation to do so.In return, they should expect that our laws and customs will prevail here, not those of the place they didn't like well enough to remain in. That is reasonable accommodation.For those immigrants who do not feel that women should be treated as adult,human beings there are, regrettably, many other societies that share this pablum with them.We should make it abundantly clear that those are the places that they should be living in because this medieval rubbish will not be permitted here

    • I looked up the ethnic groups in Canada. If you include Ireland as British, which it was until 1920 or so, the clear majority of Canadians are either British or French. It's not even multi-cultural European, really. Canada, the multi-cultural is a cultural myth. It's Anglo-French Canada. So, it would be best decribed as a country with a bi-national root.

    • I agree with the comments of Tom. I believe in reasonable accommodations to all immigrants but there has to be a limit. The whole issue of multi-culturalism has gone too far.

      • make it mandatory! applying for emigration status to Canada, they supposed to weave all their old counties, law, culture, or behaviour, new country , new laws. A few weeks ago a couple was arrested in saudi for cheek kiss on the street. And we Canada are allowing for burkas and everything their want to under our precious Charter of Freedom. The freedom of minority to supress the majority

  25. Remind me again, why don't muslim men have to cover their faces?

  26. This is about making women submit in a visual and public way through a manner of restricted dress/attire, whether the actual woman covered recognizes it for what it really is or not, the rest of us sure do.

    Also in our culture we expect to be able to read the faces of the people in our daily lives, it's how we've operated for centuries. In fact, covering of the face to us, means you 're a criminal. Not that we think all covered woman are criminals, but that's our way of thinking about the whole "hide your face" issue, it's a long standing traditional trust on face value custom here, and we're still big on it.
    (An old joke about a higher than expected bill – here that high bill might be accompanied by a comment to the effect of: "Gee, they should have a mask on when they take my money for this!")

    I am impressed with the co-operation between all parties and governing bodies to get this accomplished, nice to see that on something this vital for our nation, they did stand together.
    Well done all.

  27. Of course, the tribal mentality also has the individual in mind (the two are interwoven there as well) but since reason can only find its way through the individual, an enhanced well-being of the collective comes about by the individual being reasonable. Reason is directly linked to responsibility. Without reason one could not come to understand the meaning of responsibilty. Yet, rights, and individual rights in particular (although all rights are ultmately individual in nature) can only be granted by the collective.

    Rights and responsibilities belong together within a closed cirlce. They together form the closed circle, just like the individual and the collective together form a closed circle. They are together or they are not!

    (continued)

  28. The granting of rights indicates that the collective places itself within an indirect understanding of itself. Namely by receiving a stronger sense of the collective in return by means of reason. Since reason cannot let itself be known through the collective (how could it?), reason must travel through the individual and by means of responsibility is the collective served purposefully. Out of such enhanced collective will the individual appear stronger, hence the truly progressive cycle in action.

    (continued)

    • Gaulinon quotes:

      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

      Very important quote, actually. But Gaulinon makes one mistake, however, and the mistake is this:

      By being human does the "Creator" reveal itself specifically. I am trying to look up a quote by Carl Jung in that respect but I cannot find it right now. I will post it a.s.a. I have found it. I didn't want to loose the sequence of these postings.

      Untill then…………..

      • Found the quote by Jung:

        ""Now the remarkable thing here is that it is not Hiawatha who passes through death and emerge reborn, as might be excpected, but the god. It is not man who is transformed imto a god, but the god who undergoes transformation in and through man."

        In other words, the frist phrase of the US declaration of independence does not fall out of the sky, but is as possibility by reasonable people.

        The so-called "right" is not dictated upon by religion but is by recognition, through reason, of what religion entails (or teaches, reveals) in its "unspoiled" form.

        I don't believe the so-called "left' truly unnderstands this, and that would be an important difference to point out.

        • And so back to the burka:

          the wearing of the burka points back to a demishment of "self'.

          Furthermore, the wearing of the burka indicates an regressive understanding of unity between male and female (in regards to understanding the wider scope of unity, the understanding of unity between male and female is of utmost importance)

          furthermore, the wearing of the burka eliminates a large part of our emotional readings when interacting. Since human emotions are as longing to unite, this not being able to read emotions fully, will hamper our progress

          • the wearing of the burka points back to a deminishment of "self'. (and possibility of reason deminished likewise)

            You may think so, and I suspect likewise, but the link is tenuous, and I'm not convinced the ban can be warranted on that basis.

            furthermore, the wearing of the burka eliminates a large part of our emotional readings when interacting. Since human emotions are as longing to unite, this not being able to read emotions fully, will hamper our progress

            Again, you may think so, and again I suspect you are correct. But does a group of individuals really have the right to prevent people from hiding their emotions if they want to do that?

          • ok, there is a law againt appearing nude in public. Has that law ever been struck down? Of course not.

            We would not allow 20 to 90 persons in any city to walk around nude and allow it because it would only be a few doing it.

            The law against appearing nude in public is based on common sense, a rational human sense. Simply put, it would not serve the collective to have people woeling around in the nude.

            And so, a law against being totally covered, face and all, could proceed under the same common sense philosophy. One would hope, of course, that the courts have some reasonable understanding left of what goes for common sense. That then would become the ultimate question.

          • Yeah….I follow your analogy….but still, for reasons I'm not able to get on paper, I somehow see them as not completely equivalent. So I can support the anti-nudity laws and still be uncomfortable imposing a ban against face coverings.

          • "But does a group of individuals really have the right to prevent people from hiding their emotions if they want to do that? "

            But must we (as a collective) automatically grant the right upon individuals to not be emotional readable when such individuals enjoy all the benefits that our society has gathered as a result of being open and accessible? I am not sure we automatically must grant them such rights.

          • Absolutely agree that granting rights should not be automatic…..it should absolutely be (well) reasoned.

            I'll get my parents to translate, and get back to you on "Voor wat, hoort wat!"

        • The so-called "right" is not dictated upon by religion but is by recognition, through reason, of what religion entails (or teaches, reveals) in its "unspoiled" form.

          That strikes me as a very charitable interpretation.

          • Look, we have to distinguish between spoiled forms of religion and unspoiled forms of religion.

            The drafters of the US declaration of independence did not believe that such independence was granted directly from above. Those drafters were much too rational to believe in anything so superstitious.

            Religion is not all bad. Religion is complicated. Our modern times has condemned religion much too fast. It is simply unreasonable to dismiss reilgion outright.

            BTW, I am not a religious person, but I am interested in religion, in the meaning of it in human terms. There is a lot we do not fully understand, including religion. But to say, as Gaulion does, that the "right" receives orders directly from above, is not well thought out. He is referring to the believers who take religion literally. I am not one of those, but I do believe religion has something to teach, regardless of how the modern world stands opposed to it.

          • I would like to mention something else, and this may appear to be unrelated but it is not. The circle of individual versus collective, or rights versus responsibilities is also misunderstood wtihin our financial markets mis-management of late.

            You see, when rights are granted, withing the financial world, there, too, a responsibility must stand in counter to balance those rights. But when banks (and other institutions) are bailed out because they are an institution where no one particular individual is held responsible, we, on the other hand are confused when big bonuses are given out to individuals operating within the very same institutions. You see, some things are out of whack: somehow there is no individual responsibility when blame is being sought, yet, in the case of bonuses suddenly the individuals are easily indentified.

            It cannot work like that. The fundamental thinking on this has gone haywire. Same with free speech, tolerance etc. The fundamentals are not being considered, and that's all I am trying to get at.

          • Wrt financial institutions…the disconnect that you point out is both humourous and galling at the same time.;-)

          • I like your distinction between unspoiled and spoiled forms of religion.

            I also like your assessment of the rationality of the drafters of the US constitution. I'm not 100% sure that they were completely un-religious, although I am sure that they intended to be substantially less religious than the average US citizen assumes they were.

            Wrt religion in general, I agree that in theory it has a lot to offer (if we all actaully followed "love thy neighbour"….). However, at some point, even if a founding ideal is absolutely wonderful, but the practical implementation falls well short of that ideal, it might be time to abandon that ideal and start all over again.

  29. I would just like to know why the respect of others religions only seems to go one way. You don't hear Merry Christmas any more, it is now Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays. What happen to our religious rights.

  30. My view on this subject are coloured by an experience my daughter and I encountered in a shopping mall. An imposing figure in full Muslim female covering, with only the eyes showing, blocked our way, holding out both palms for money. Her look was so intimidating we gave her some. Afterwards, and even now, years later, I remember thinking "That's no female. The eyes are those of a male, and angry." Have I made my point?

  31. The real issue here is integration. If muslim women wish to progress in Canada, they will need to meet and socialize with non Muslims as well as Muslims. How does a non Muslim socialize, make friends with or trust someone whose face they have never seen?

  32. The problem is that Canada does not have the population necessary to utilize the resources we have. That is why we need immigration. With higher population we also have more people buying and selling goods, more people to serve in restaurants, pubs, buying cars, houses and the gamut of commodities. Also, we currently charge a pretty high premium for people legally immigrating to Canada so that Doctor from India has to pay a good sum of money for the right to move here as well as prove that they will not be a burden to our welfare system. Please do not confuse legal immigration with refugee status.

    • Well that's the theory. But in actuality, there's no evidence whatsoever that the kind of immigration we've allowed in the past two decades has been an economic net gain for Canada or anywhere in the West. Everyone assumes it is, because why would we do something so counter-productive? Often figures from decades ago are used to mislead about the benefits of immigration.

      There are many reasons why immigration does not profit Canada but immigrants. One is family reunification policies that allow elderly parents here who have not paid a penny of taxes at a time in life when they will be drawing on state resources most heavily, especially health care. If a young couple brings in both sets of retired parents, they and their one or two kids will never pay in taxes what the upkeep of those non-productive geriatric Canadian citizens will cost. Don't bother mentioning sponsorship requirements. No one really pays up. Even people on Welfare were allowed to sponsor as many as 18 relatives as one publicized case in Quebec demonstrated. Another problem is that bringing in illiterates in their own language and trying to teach them English or French is a very expensive deal. Again, they will in most cases never generate enough taxes to pay for their education. And so on it goes.

  33. If these women cannot adapt to the Canadian way of life they should go back to their own country. If a Canadian woman went to their country she would have to abide by their rules. I would have no problem with that if I chose to live in their country. If they choose to live in my country they should abide by our rules.
    RCMP and police officers should all wear the hats that belong to their uniform. If you choose to ride a motorcycle you must wear a helmut.
    Swords, whether ceremonial or not are still weapons and as such no one should be allowed in public with one.
    We have laws in this country to protect the majority of it's people and if a small minority cannot abide the laws of the country they should not be allowed to remain.

  34. In a Toronto plaza where Muslims congregate, women in niquabs are a common sight, clutching the hands of little girls with shining faces that will at puberty be walled up like their mothers. It's like seeing dinosaurs lumbering about. There is a limit to what is tolerable under religious freedom. As we would not countenance human or even animal sacrifice anymore to someone's Aztec god, we do not accept medieval treatment of women and defenseless girls (e.g. clitorectomy). Those Muslims who insist on full veiling have 57 countries to choose from in which to live. Here in the West we show our faces to each other and do not imply that our men are rapists who need to have all temptation removed to behave.

    Canadians perhaps recall that the women in the infamous Khadr family and consorts of the Toronto bomb plotters who hissed their contempt at Canada all wore the niquab. It correlates with the most radical and therefore dangerous element of Islam followers.

    No less an authority than bin Laden's second in command, al-Zawahiri named veiled Muslim women soldiers in Islam's army and so they are. Some of the more honest ones have even admitted that they are out to "provoke" the host society. With their veiling they make the same hostile statement toward non-Muslims that one can see spelled out on placards they hoist in various demos of Islamic anger in Western countries, expressing hate toward Jews, calling for a second holocaust etc.

  35. You are really a bunch of a–h–e
    Your not intelligent enough to learn french

    • What does leaning to speak French have to do with intelligence or anything about this issue?

  36. Islam is incompatible with the Canadian Constitution and our way of life. The face covering is only a symptom of the rejection of equal rights for women, of the rule of Canadian law over religious sharia law and of the backward beliefs of a religion that has always used violence and war to expand its territory and impose Islam on others. From murdering cartoonists to authors, from imposing death sentences on gays and apostates it has shown itself to be a danger to the world. Over 30 countries now have violent Islamic terrorists killing, threatening and imposing Sharia. How long will Canadians buy this lie of the "religion of peace". When has Islam ever been peaceful other than when they are a minority in a country. As they grow in numbers they have always, for the past 1200 years and up to today, demanded expansion of Islam in a society. Separate swimming days, and covered faces are only the first stages. Ban them from immigrating to Canada.

  37. Canadians were naive enough to believe multiculturalism only meant people would wear funny clothes, eat strange food and play weird music. They didn't think it meant setting up a version of the society people just left. Politicians used it to get the "community leaders" of these immigrants to load up buses on election day with instructions on how to vote and in return got "multicultural grants". It continues to this day at every level from city politics to federal. Multiculturalism should be abandoned as a policy and integration demanded of all immigrants. They have nothing to teach us about freedom, individual rights or democracy.

  38. Muslim women choose the veil? Well they are certainly encouraged to do so. This week in Melbourne, Australia an Afghan was found guilty of killing his wife by using her veil to strangle her in their Melbourne home. He did so in the belief he was entitled to dominate her, a Supreme Court judge has found. He had complained to Ms Rahimi's sister in the days prior to her killing that his wife was becoming "too Australian", meaning "she was not a docile and good wife". The couple, who had five children now aged from 14 to 2, came to Australia in 2005 after fleeing Afghanistan and spending seven years in refugee camps in Iran. So I guess he was one of the "moderate" Muslims trying to escape to freedom?

    Stop Muslim immigration now!

  39. Canadians are always lecturing Canadians about how to behave in Canada.

    Pity we don't extend the same courtesy to *new* Canadians.

    Canadian culture is presumably worthy of the same sensitivity and tolerance that other cultures are. Canadian culture does not approve of the niqab. Ergo, Muslim immigrants to Canada such should simply respect our proud and colourful traditions regarding this issue. Problem solved.

    Funny how leftist doctrine always breaks down once simple logic is applied…

  40. REMOVE YOUR FACE MASK,OR GO BACK HOME,,NOT A PROBLEM

  41. From my perspective, this (the banning of the niqab in government facilities) is a simple matter of security and identification. Until the days of retinal scans to confirm identity (assuming that the eyes are not obscurred as well), what we have is facial recognition. Would anyone here want to have someone in a niqab show up at YOUR daycare or the local hospital and walk out with YOUR child? Paper documents can be forged. It is much more difficult to change your face (but not if you have it covered, and nobody can see it).

    On top of the security aspect: As another poster stated: Facial expression is as much a form of communication as spoken language, and is nessessary for true communication. I'm sorry to the bleeding hearts, but I think that this is a good idea, and step towards making use all MORE equal. One book, one set of rules, one standard for everyone, regardless of religion.

  42. Canada is NOT rejecting multiculturalism.

    Hinduism, Bufddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, etc are flourishing there.

    Canada is rejecting Islamism, which it correctly recognises as a force for inculcating a mentality of violent alienation.

  43. This article (and the law) is about the Niqab and yet the "illustrative" photos all show women with their faces uncovered… Why?

  44. We should just not let in any more muslims to Canada and boot out the ones who are already here. Problem solved.

  45. How is shutting the door on immigration good for anyones sake??? First of all if it wasnt for immigration there wouldnt be half the businesses right now. Jus cuz u feel like there rnt enough jobs that's ur problem. I think there r plenty. And ur talking bout that immigrants dont have any special skills or talents r u joking…seriously. These Immigrants ur talkin about r geniuses in math and business mayb u should visit such a country and see how far they have come. I think things rnt improving because of u ppl who have no culture and no flavour…wasting ur money on smoking and such things. If u look around u will see that wen an immigrant comes here within six months they have a huge house and have a set secure future…i cant say the same for u. Y dont u take another look especially at urself and compare it to an immigrant who is willing to work in a rotten working condition to make a future and actually achieve a awsome future. Bet u they still have better life than u and im pretty sure ur just jealous :)

  46. I think this law is the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard…How does a muslim woman wearing a niqab effect anyone??? I dont get it… Its part of her religion to wear it and no one should have a say in it. I mean next thing u know the government will tell the east indians men cant wear a turban or the east indian women cant cover their heads. As far as security goes jus have a woman security officer or a female doctor have the muslim woman remove her niqab in private and that will effect no one. I jus dont know y the government is being so extreme about it. Its jus plain ridiculous. SHould they be making laws against far more important matters than this. Quebec is jus downgrading its respect…i thought Canada was better than this.

  47. At the credit union where i do my banking, customers are asked to remove sunglasses and caps (for identification purposes). Makes sence to me! I try to be open minded about other people's customs, but quite frankly seeing someone covered from head to toe, with only the eyes peering out creeps me out. On the one hand i agree that women should be free to cover themselves up, but on the other hand i have seen young women in low cut, tight-fitting t-shirts and hip hugging jeans, showing off all their "nooks and crannies", while at the same time wearing the headscarf covering their hair and ears and neck. (i find this somewhat contradictory and also get the impression that some of them hold themselves above the rest of us Canadian, imparting a sort of religious/moral superiority.) Too bad women who feel compelled to cover their hair or bodies don't want to embrace the 21st Century. I also wonder about the security aspect of allowing people to hide their identity.

  48. How come when we go into their countries they force us to wear the headwear and cover. So what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. When they come here they should adapt to our culture and way of living. Wish Canada could be more like France. Show some gumption. Besides it is not even religious based. If they want to keep their hijabs they might as well stay in their countries and give those, who are ready to adopt our style of living, an opportunity to come and make positive contribution to the society.

  49. This entire issue reminds me entirely of the whole abortion issue, when people kept telling women what they should do. The answer is absoulutley simple. Choice! The freedom of choice is the ellixer of life in Canada. Let these women choose how to dress. The root of misogyny has been men controlling the appereance of women from banning embellihments to encouraging harmful corsettes. By determining the legal valuee of these womens appearence you are stripping them of the fundamental right of individuality. Imagine the next law banning makeup or imposing a skirt law. That would be ludicrous.

  50. So putting aside our societies christian undertone of contempt for the middle east rooting from the failed crusades let these women choose how they want to live. Personally I would like to show them freedom from these restrictive head pieces in an act of liberation but forcing them to remove it is uncontituitional. If we continue we are on the road to becoming a culturally totalitarian government hiding behind the idea of multicultuaralism. Leave the religion aspect out of this argument and let these women deciede their apparel for themselves. Women get patted down by women at the airport. What is the harm of having these womens pictures taken by members of the same gender. I think we owe it to them as a common courtesy of social justice

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