Monday, September 10, 2007

Religious Freedom ... Only If You Conform ...

There are days where I could swear that the supposedly "individualist" Conservatives are among those who demand the greatest degree of societal conformity.

Last week, Harper's government blasted Elections Canada over veiled voters. According to Harper, Parliament's will is being undermined by the Elections Canada decision.

Of course, there's Harper's position and then there's reality:

Elections Canada said this week that current rules do not force women wearing niqabs or burkas to show their faces at the voting booth, as long as they show two government-issued IDs or have another voter vouch for their identity.

“There are several ways that electors can choose to prove their identity and residential address, some of which do not entail having to remove face coverings,” the statement said.

A spokesman for Elections Canada later explained that all parties were informed in July of the policy on face coverings.

Then there's what the Con$ have to say about it (and I'm not exactly impressed with the Liberals on this one either):

“Common sense is being trumped by political correctness. It's the kind of thing that results in ordinary people just shaking their heads,” said Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan, who is the minister responsible for the country's electoral laws.

Then in this morning's news, we find PMSH resorting to veiled threats against Elections Canada personnel:

"And I have to say that it concerns me greatly because the role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it's to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed. So, I hope they'll reconsider this decision, but in the meantime if that doesn't happen, Parliament will have to consider what actions it's going to take to make sure that its intentions are put into place."

I won't profess to understanding the proscription against removing a veil - at least in the context of voting - but then again I won't claim that I agree with the proscription either. The point that is beginning to emerge here is rather interesting. On one hand, we have a party whose membership has long advocated that "Religious Freedom" is being trumped by the courts as well as various laws passed by the Chretien era government, and yet on a topic which is so clearly a matter related to someone's faith, we find them intransigent.

Apparently, to the Con$, "Freedom of Religion" only applies if you happen to follow a faith that doesn't oblige you to wear a veil. (Or, perhaps I should say - an interpretation of a faith that obliges one to wear a veil in public)


evilscientist said...

You also have to remember that Elections Canada is simply enforcing the law that the Harper Conservatives presented to and voted for in the Commons. It would seem that Harper didn't bother to read the law he was voting for as the law quite clearly reads as not having to even show picture ID at the polls.

Grog said...

I noticed that too - but I figured the head of Elections Canada was doing a very nice job of pointing the problem with Harper's attempt at logic.