Ottawa (February 17, 2011) - The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) congratulates MPs of all three national parties who opposed the Bloc Quebecois motion to ban a Sikh article of faith, the kirpan, from the House of Commons.
“We want to thank Conservative house leader John Baird, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton for reaffirming Canada’s commitment to personal and religious freedom,” said Prem Singh Vinning, WSO President.”
The kirpan is also accommodated in the Supreme Court of Canada and all provincial legislatures, outside of Quebec.
The BQ’s February 15 motion, proposing that the House of Commons ban kirpans, was the federal party’s strategy to show support for the Quebec National Assembly’s decision to bar kirpan-wearing Sikhs from government buildings in Quebec. The controversy began in January after the WSO was invited to speak on Bill 94, known as the niqab bill because it would prevent veiled Muslim women from accessing government services including healthcare and libraries. The WSO’s legal team was denied access to the hearing because they wear the kirpan, an article of faith that is mandatory for initiated Sikhs.
“The PQ’s Louise Beaudoin justified the legislature’s actions by arguing that Quebec does not value multiculturalism. This statement is astonishing in itself. However, this issue isn’t about multiculturalism, it’s about the law,” stated Gian Singh Sandhu, WSO’s Senior Policy Advisor. “By denying them freedom of religion and personal liberties, Quebec is marginalizing Canadians of minority faiths and taking away rights guaranteed under the Charter.”
In their brief on Bill 94, the WSO’s lawyers argued that such legislation would be unlikely to survive a Charter challenge.
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.
For more information, please contact:
Major Jasbeer Singh
Gian Singh Sandhu