Doug Rutherford

Home » Election » Ah, the niqab thing

Ah, the niqab thing

October 2015
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Once again, another news story comes out where the majority of Canadians believe that members of the public service should not wear a niqab at work. The study states that 64 percent of Canadians call for a ban on “Muslim women from front-line federal public service jobs if they wear Islamic veils.”

Further, 74 percent say they disagree with wearing a niqab during a citizenship ceremony, although two Federal Courts have ruled that such a prohibition is illegal.

My response to this is two words in length: so what? The freedom of religion and expression called for in Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the wearing of religious symbols. And, there are some who say the niqab is cultural rather than religious in nature. However, it is called for in some branches of Islam and the differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims is substantially greater than the differences between some Christian sects, such the difference between Catholics and Amish. If you see some Muslin women not wearing one, or a hijab instead, this is a reflection of these differences, not that it isn’t a religious piece of apparel.

Equally important to consider in this is that we have a charter to protect minority rights, not the majority opinion. Further, the fact that we have a court system that actually enforces a charter that states such things as everyone is equal in front of the law is something you should be proud of, regardless of the fact that you may not agree with every one of those decisions.

And, if you’re against public servants wearing a niqab, although there are no federal public servants who do so, ask yourself, “Why?” How does it affect you in any way? Will that public servant process your form more slowly, or not be able to do her job.

If you don’t have a practical, functional answer, other than personal opinion or wanting them to adopt your culture, you’re the problem in this issue, not the woman wearing a niqab.

Remember, we have a proud and long history of not requiring cultural assimilation of immigrants. If we had required it, public servants may only speak Cree…



  1. growingfireweed says:


  2. yukonchris says:

    I haven’t read the charter but I was under the impression that it was designed to protect individual human rights rather than minority rights or majority rights. Substituting the word “opinion” for “rights” seems a bit disingenuous because it suggests that individuals only have rights if their opinion is in the minority. Frankly, I think everyone has a right to an opinion and that must be guaranteed by the charter. Whether my opinion is popular or unpopular one is the point.

  3. yukonchris says:

    Sorry, that should have read: Frankly, I think everyone has a right to an opinion and that must be guaranteed by the charter. Whether my opinion is a popular or unpopular one isn’t really the point.

  4. The popularity of your opinion isn’t an issue. However, the PM has stated that majority opinion is why he’s considering a ban of the niqab in the federal public service, despite the fact that it probably will not stand up to a court challenge… again.

    Also, the Charter does specifically protect minority rights, particularly in the area of French language services and education.

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