HOW stupid is Multiculturalism Minister Tim Uppal to allow himself to be used by a desperate Prime Minister Stephen Harper against the niqab!
With Harper and the Conservatives’ fortunes plummeting in Quebec in the face of solid NDP support under Tom Mulcair in recent weeks, Harper ordered Uppal – a bearded and turbaned Sikh – to announce that the government will introduce a last-minute bill to ban face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.
CBC reported that the Quebec government introduced legislation on Wednesday to force religious neutrality in provincial institutions that includes a requirement that people must show their faces to give or receive government services. In other words, Muslim women cannot wear the niqab.
So along comes Uppal and tells reporters after a meeting of the Conservative caucus: “We broadly support Quebec’s legislation regarding the uncovering of faces for giving and receiving public services.”
He added: “Our government will be moving forward in the coming days with legislation with respect to the face coverings at citizenship ceremonies, and we will consider what other measures may be necessary.”
Doesn’t Uppal know that there are any number of white and non-white Canadians who would still love to ban the turban?
It is ONLY the courts that have safeguarded Sikhs against such bigotry.
CBC reported that when reporters asked Uppal if this proposal was Islamophobic, he said absolutely not.
Well, what else can Uppal say – if he wants to remain in cabinet!
But shouldn’t Uppal have some self-respect?
“We’ve been very clear that… regarding citizenship ceremonies, at a time when people are pledging allegiance to this country, when they’re joining the Canadian family, we find that Canadians expect that anyone joining the Canadian family at that time would have their face uncovered,” he said.
Well, Uppal should know there was a time when the RCMP didn’t want anyone with a turban in its ranks – only the courts made it possible for turbaned Sikhs to join the force.
Why is he allowing himself to be used by bigoted Conservatives who know that they will NOT get a majority government as polls have been showing for quite some time?
CBC pointed out that in 2011, then-immigration minister Jason Kenney issued a directive for citizenship judges to force Muslim women not to cover their faces with a niqab or any other covering while reciting the oath of citizenship.
But the ban was struck down by a FAIR and SENSIBLE Federal Court judge just last February.
Back in 2011, I wrote in a newspaper: “Kenny’s sudden “inspiration” to ban face coverings such as the niqab and the burka when taking an oath of citizenship was ABSOLUTELY UNCALLED FOR.
“It really makes NO SENSE.
“All it did was to unleash a wave of RACISM against Muslims and visible minorities – just giving yet another accuse to white supremacists and other bigots to attack us. After all, when you see a brown-skinned guy, you don’t see “Muslim” or “Hindu” or “Sikh” or “Christian” or “conservative” or “liberal” or whatever written on his or her forehead, do you?
“But many of our brown brothers and sisters just don’t get it! They are so blinded in their hatred of each other and thus make themselves an easy target of white racists.”
(I also want to make it clear here that I am a CHRISTIAN – just in case there is any misunderstanding.)
I also wrote back in 2011: “Personally, I am not in favour of women covering their faces or heads with niqabs or burqas or the Catholic nuns’ habits and so on. But if women decide to wear them, that’s their personal choice.
“But, as I have noted before, this has unfortunately become a very convenient way for some rightwing politicians to deflect attention from more pressing problems plaguing their countries and societies and try and win votes.”
Mainstream media too lashed out at the Conservatives’ shameless opportunism back in 2011:
VANCOUVER Sun’s Craig McInnes wrote: “Still, on a functional level, the objections raised by the Conservative government for both swearing-in ceremonies and voting are LARGELY NONSENSICAL. They have no objection to the thousands of votes cast by mail, and even for a swearing in, it would be EASY TO CONFIRM both identity and intent without insisting on full public exposure.” [Capitalizations mine for emphasis.]
TORONTO Star’s National Affairs Columnist Thomas Walkom wrote: “Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s decision to withhold Canadian citizenship from veiled Muslim women is HAM-HANDED and, at one level, ABSURD.
“It is a remedy to A PROBLEM THAT DOES NOT EXIST, based on complaints from a single Conservative MP and the unverified anecdotes of unnamed citizenship judges.
“Do many women show up for their final citizenship ceremonies in full burka or wearing the niqab face veil? We don’t know and neither, by his department’s own admission, does Kenney.
“The only possible explanation for the minister’s unusual haste (the ban takes effect immediately) is political. Stephen Harper’s government is under attack — for its handling of the housing crisis at the Attawapiskat reserve, for its cavalier approach to climate change at the just-completed Durban conference and for its flawed border deal with the U.S.
“At such a time, playing the Muslim card is a classic remedy. It gets people talking. It discomfits the opposition. IT APPEALS TO LURKING RACISM. It changes the channel.” [Capitalizations mine for emphasis.]
THE Globe and Mail columnist Sheema Khan wrote: “Not coincidentally, the minister chose to make his comments while the Supreme Court of Canada considers whether a woman should be allowed to testify in court with her face covered. Governments decline comment on cases before the court to give the appearance of judicial independence. Yet, a minister of the Crown says the niqab is “bizarre” and has no place in public testimony.
“The Harper government has done a 180-degree turn on the niqab. In 2009, the Prime Minister’s Office said: “In an open and democratic society like Canada, individuals are free to make their own decisions regarding their personal apparel and to adhere to their own customs or traditions of their faith or beliefs.” On Monday, Mr. Kenney said: “We are all coming together as Canadians in a public ceremony and if you don’t like it, if you feel uncomfortable, then maybe you chose the wrong country in the first place.” He added: “I’m sure they’ll trump up some stupid Charter of Rights challenge.” Imagine, a minister of the Crown publically denigrating those who seek their constitutional rights.”