Ottawa (February 9, 2011) – The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed that the Quebec National Assembly has voted unanimously in favour of a PQ motion to support the decision to bar the kirpan.
“We’re disappointed that the wearing of the kirpan, which is a human rights issue, has been politicized. Today’s vote represents a turn away from the values of tolerance and multiculturalism. We had expressed a desire to sit down with security at the National Assembly and have a rational discussion about the kirpan but it seems this debate is no longer about the niqab or the kirpan, it’s about the inclusion of minorities in Quebec,” said Balpreet Singh, WSO legal counsel.
WSO had sent letters and education material on the kirpan to the National Assembly’s Sergeant at Arms Jean-Francois Roberge, as well as Premier Jean Charest and Minister Kathleen Weil, inviting them to discuss concerns about the article of faith that Sikh men and women wear.
The kirpan is accommodated across Canada including in the House of Commons, the Supreme Court of Canada, and all provincial legislatures. In 2006 the SCC ruled that the kirpan is not a weapon, but an article of faith. And even Vancouver’s security conscious 2010 Winter Olympics permitted the kirpan.
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “It’s unfortunate that the PQ believes multiculturalism is a value in Canada but not in Quebec. We feel multiculturalism is not just a Canadian value, but a liberal democratic one that allows us all to live together harmoniously. We were also disappointed today to see misleading attempts to categorize the kirpan as a weapon and symbol of violence. The Supreme Court of Canada has clearly stated that the kirpan is an article of faith and that other everyday implements such as scissors are far more likely to be used as weapons.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.