A great editorial in the Ottawa Citizen
When members of the World Sikh Organization of Canada showed up at Quebec's National Assembly this week to testify at hearings about reasonable accommodation, they were turned away by security. Why? Because they were wearing kirpans, the ceremonial daggers worn by many Sikh men.
That incident sums up the hardening view toward minority rights in Quebec. The outcome of the hearings into a bill which would ban religious garments from covering the faces of people receiving government services, seems assured. If voices wanting to discuss reasonable accommodation cannot even be allowed to enter the debate, there is little chance their perspectives will be considered.
Now the kirpan issue has been lobbed onto the federal stage with a suggestion by the Bloc Quebecois that the federal Parliament should take its security lead from Quebec and also ban kirpans.
This suggestion has come as a surprise to Navdeep Bains, a Liberal MP from Mississauga-Brampton South who has worn his kirpan in the House of Commons since being elected.
The kirpan is an issue Canadians have debated and managed to reach accommodation on. As a result, Bains and others are allowed to wear their kirpans in most situations. "I've worn my kirpan to the Supreme Court, I've even gone to the U.S. Congress and met with officials there and had no problems, so I don't see what the issue is," he said.
In 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Sikh students can bring kirpans, sealed inside clothing, to school. Rather than suggesting Parliament follow its narrow path, Quebec should look to the rest of the country for direction on reasonable accommodation.
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