Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Veiled Thoughts

I think Elections Canada got it right.

I think women who chose to wear a facial covering should be able to vote without revealing their faces. I also think Elections Canada was slightly too expedient in their process though. People like to be asked before someone else makes a decision on their behalf. And with good reason, Muslim women are now uneasy about having the spotlight shone on them in Quebec because of something they didn’t actually ask for.

The reasons I think Elections Canada got this right are probably a bit facile to the rest of you. Firstly, I think anything that makes the voting process more accommodating to everyone is a good thing. Voter turnout is low and this allows more people to vote without really interrupting their lifestyle choices or religious faith. I really don’t think this will lead to widespread voting corruption scandals. Fear of that is really just a disguised racist fear. Secondly, just because there is the right doesn’t mean it will actually be invoked by anyone. It wasn’t an issue before, anywhere, so it probably won’t be now. So I think we should just all chill out because this is just saying “you don’t have to if you don’t want to” before someone took the nation to court over a violation of their rights as a Canadian. Not that I think it would necessarily happen but if this wasn’t decided upon by Elections Canada then it is much more likely that it could.

Also, you can vote even if you don't actually have any identification but can get a sworn statement that you are who you claim to be. Say you've had a house fire and lost all identification the night before an election or you were robbed or some other circumstance (veil not required). At least that's how I remember the Canada Elections Act, it has been a while though.

I’ve already heard of these people in the by-elections protesting that the people at the counter don’t know if the person voting is really the person voting and this is somehow a bad thing (even though you provide I.D. to vote as the person and nobody has since shown up to vote a second time unveiled). I mean how often does someone steal someone else’s identity in order to elect the candidate of their choice? I mean honestly, this isn’t the 1800’s or Chicago in the twenties. If you provide official identity you get to vote, it’s simple. There are no major identity theft rings created for the purpose of voting – buying gasoline and computers online, sure, but voting? C’mon, get a grip.

That being said, it will be interesting to see just how utterly racist Quebec really is during the Taylor-Bouchard Commission hearings. I find it funny that a culture that is extremely Catholic claims to be secular. It’s like discussing the canon of being Canadian or Quebecois. I heard an outtake this morning about how it was terrible that Sikhs could wear turbans if they were in the RCMP. As if being Canadian is determined by “not turban wearing” which I’m sorry, is racist bullshit. But don’t get me wrong I don’t think these feelings are limited only to Quebec, I’m sure they are present across Canada it’s just that Quebec has Herouxville.

This all sounds like a lot of baseless fears. Hmmm, who else believed in a religious conspiracy to take away from a specifically limited cultural definition then used that as a way to deflect from any serious issue until mobs were formed to rid themselves of a global conspiracy to poison pure cultures?


Jan Triska said...

They didn't ask for it - that's a very important qualifier in this whole issue. So, it can not be painted as the usual "small minority stomping its collective feet" incident, which is what sometimes happens. And which is what the more bigoted people would assume to be the situation...

There are only about 50 women in the entire province of Quebec, who have chosen to live in this ultra-orthodox fashion. That's fifty individuals out of a total of 200,000 Muslims within Quebec and a total of 7.5million Quebecois. With the vast majority of the Quebecois Muslims being very moderate and almost always of Lebanese or Algerian origin (and those cultures are not Afghanistan, if you know hat I mean..)

I think, as a society, we have larger problems to deal with. And if we need to shine a spotlight on any Muslims, it's probably on some of the visting teachers at Islamic 'Sunday schools', like the guy last year who was inciting violence against Israel. Now there's a guy who should be denied his rights, including the right to come to Canada in the first place.

urban pedestrian said...

I'm totally baffled by this whole debate since there has never been an issue. The muslim women in question have no problems lifting their face veils for situations involving identification. I can't figure out where this is all coming from except that our PM is making a big stink about it. Is he deliberately trying to stir up some racial conflict?

Jan Triska said...

The PM is probably wading into the debate since the judiciary represents one of his political targets. There are two institutions that PM Harper has set sights on reforming or at least challenging and knocking down a notch - the Senate, and the 'activist' courts.

Umar said...

I initially thought - hmm... maybe there should be corroboration of ID.

Then I remember that I didn't show my face when I voted provincially last time. I voted by proxy (i.e. someone else cast my ballot), because I was on a plane back to Toronto from Australia on election day (a flight which was shared on the L.A.-Chicago leg with Cobi Jones and his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates, incidentally), and wasn't going to be in my riding.

So if I voted without showing my face, as can many others (mail-in voters/proxy voters), why not the extremely few Muslim women wearing niqabs? Is there going to be a flood of people using this ruling to corrupt our electoral system? Or is this just racism or stupidity?

joncormier said...

A bit of a combination I think.

It's fear mongering at it's worst.

I don't understand - then shoot first, ask questions later!!!