Friday, October 2, 2015

The Niqab 'Issue'

I'm wading into this one with eyes wide open.  Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has gone eye to eye with Jason Kenney - Multiculturalism Minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet and Conservative candidate in Calgary-Mindapore - over the issue of a very, very few Muslim women refusing to remove their face veil (niqab) during their citizenship ceremony.

The feds are taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court; what a waste of time and bucks!

May I suggest a simple solution to this whole issue?  I firmly believe that no one should be allowed to cover their face while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship, whether it be ceremonial or not. 

The women have already agreed to remove their niqab in private to prove their identity.  My solution is have them take the ceremonial oath at that time, in private, where they've already agreed to uncover their faces.  They've already met every other condition to become a Canadian, why not allow them the right to have a private ceremony where they can remove their niqab comfortably? 

It would be a compromise, to be sure, but isn't that what Canada is all about?  We can come to a satisfactory agreement on these kind of things!

We compromised when the Sikh RCMP officers were finally allowed to wear their turbans.  I don't believe the sanctity of the RCMP was affected in any way and it helped those officers in the performance of their duties.   So; come on Mr. Kenney, sit down and talk to these two women who are involved and get a deal!


  1. Hmm. I wonder what it would be like to have someone in a Burka or behind a veil sitting as a member of a jury of my peers if I was in court for some reason. Would I feel like I was getting a fair trial? Hard questions indeed! I don't think the problem is as simple as one might think and Nenshi should be a bit more careful in his criticism in recognition of the difficulty. More likely that he is out to score a blow against a party that he sees as less promising for $$.

    1. Odd that it's always about money, for some. Isn't it possible that Nenshi is taking a moral stand, on behalf of the principle of 'live and let live'? But, for the sake of argument, let's say that it is about money, and that's all: Calgary certainly can't do worse if the Conservatives somehow manage to get re-elected. The city has gotten far fewer federal dollars than Toronto or Vancouver - for stuff like transit, or police, or infrastructure - in the past 10 years from the Harper government. The NDP and Liberals - which are only competitive in maybe 2-3 seats in Calgary - aren't promising a whole lot better; the Liberals' track record for supporting Calgary with federal dollars is pretty lacklustre, too.

      I digress. On the point of having a juror wearing a niqab during a trial - what difference would that make, really? Especially since any vote to convict or acquit would be done in private jury deliberations, anyway? Besides, deciding whether a defendant is receiving a fair trial isn't up to the defendant - I mean, I'd figure most people found guilty and sent to jail don't think that they got one, either.

      That's why it's up to a judge, who would be a part of the juror selection beforehand - along with the Crown prosecutor and your defense attorney. So what you've got here is really just a strawman argument. And we're really talking about two people in the whole country, during a single ceremony that lasts only a few minutes; not a blanket ban of the niqab in all instances, in public.

    2. We're not talking about a trial by your peers. We're talking about a symbolic ceremony to declare someone a Canadian Citizen! Much of Canadian law requires folks to remove all facial coverings (including eyeglasses in some cases) when expediting certain legal actions. In those cases, the niqab would have to be removed. In the case here, I think my compromise would solve this particular impasse!