Like abortion, niqab issue is about a woman's right to choose

Like abortion, niqab issue is about a woman's right to choose
Posted on October 3, 2015 | James O'Grady | Written on October 3, 2015
Comments
Letter type:
Comment

Publisher

Publisher:
Macleans.ca

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This letter is authorized by James O'Grady.

I was happy to read this morning on Macleans.ca that NDP leader Tom Mulcair took a strong stand against Harper's position on the niqab during the TVA French leaders' debate last night.

“The way Mr. Harper says it, it’s like there are people here that are pro-niqab. No one here is pro-niqab. We realize that we live in a society where we must have confidence in the authority of the tribunals, even if the practice is uncomfortable to us. If a journalist says something that is uncomfortable to me, I still support his right to say it. Mr. Harper, you are playing a dangerous game of the kind I’ve never seen in my life.”     --Tom Mulcair

I am in full agreement with Maclean's journalist Martin Patriquin when he says its about time someone called Harper out. "It’s gross stuff, reminiscent of the Parti Québécois identity campaign of 2014, and it deserves to be shouted down" he writes.

What I find most disturbing about it is the eerie similarity to the debate on abortion and a woman's right to choose what to do with her body, and in this case, what clothes to wear to a formal citizenship ceremony. Mulcair is right, most Canadians would prefer not see anyone cover their face. But to argue as Conservatives do that the anti-niqab stance is pro-women, is hog wash. Whenever men argue they know what's in a woman's best interest, you can be sure it is not.

I feel uncomfortable about face coverings in public, just as I do about gay marriage, but the courts have ruled in all three of these cases (abortion, gay marriage and now the niqab) that human rights are paramount. Something I have to respect if I want my individual human rights to also be protected (I am half Greek after all). And, they have to be in a democracy, otherwise people's right to live their own lives the way they want to (as long as they are law abiding) will be put in jeopordary.

This goes for everyone living in Canada, no matter who you are. YOUR RIGHTS are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Something we all should be thankful for because as many Conservatives argue, who wants the government telling us what to do and how to live? If anything is medieval, as Jason Kenny tried (and failed) to explain yesterday about the tradition of wearing a niqab, it is the practice of men telling women how to live their lives.

There is an easy answer to this problem which I am surprised no one has suggested. You would think the Conservatives would have thought of this already since it would have saved a lot of tax payer money that has been wasted arguing this in court.

My solution is to come up with a formal dress code for the citizenship ceremony, for both men and women. If you don't want people wearing garments that are not considered formal in the traditional Canadian sense, then make rules clearly defining what is allowed rather than arguing over something that has only effected TWO people so far.

How much money has been wasted on this? Its time to move on to issues that really concern Canadians. Of course, when we do, the Conservative polling numbers will slide below 30% again. Something I'm sure they are keenly aware of, and the real reason I believe, why this non-issue continues to be played up in the media.

About The Author

James OGrady's picture

I am a social media entrepreneur, communications professional, part-time school teacher and community leader living in Nepean, Ontario. I am also a hockey goaltender, political hack and most importantly, an advocate... More