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Robert Silver

All aboard the niqab ban Add to ...

To the surprise of no-one, or at least not me, the Gazette's Don MacPherson obliterates the Charest government's anti-niqab legislation in a column, Quebec's niqab bill is unclear, sloppy and poorly-written:

"Could the Charest government's proposed "Naema law" be invoked to refuse emergency medical treatment in a non-life-threatening situation to an injured woman wearing a niqab? Or to bar a girl from publicly-funded schools if she starts to wear the face veil when she reaches puberty, as some Muslim women do? Taking Bill 94 literally, as laws are meant to be taken, the answer to these questions appears to be "yes." What's more, that's what Premier Jean Charest and his justice minister, Kathleen Weil, have implied is the intent of the bill."

But surely before Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff congratulated Charest for the Solomon-like legislation he introduced, they read the sucker, right?

Back to MacPherson:

"And as the Parti Québécois justice critic, Véronique Hivon, pointed out, the bill is so sloppily drafted that it refers to a provision of the Quebec charter of rights, recognizing "the principle of religious neutrality of the state," that doesn't exist. The bill looks like another hasty improvisation by the government in response to political pressure on the accommodation of minority religions. It was introduced only three weeks after the expulsion from a French course for immigrants of a niqabi named Naema Ahmed.

And while legislation should be surgically precise, Bill 94 is a blunt instrument. It shows that the Liberal government has caught the PQ ailment of using legislation to make a problem go away. And a government that legislates in haste often ends up repenting at leisure."

He is of course right. This legislation is a legal and constitutional mess addressing a "problem" that doesn't really exist. Or at least doesn't exist more than a handful of times in the entire province with questionable harm in even those few cases.

But rather than actually taking the time to read the legislation, think through the issues and maybe - just maybe - provide some perspective and deep breaths, our federal leaders have pushed their chips all in on the "reasonable accommodation" reactionary response.

Just as they were during the great veiled voting crisis that ripped our country apart a few short years ago.

Ok, it didn't really rip anyone apart other than our federal leaders who proposed over-the-top solutions to a made up problem that ended up boomeranging on them and making them look like fools in a pre-pants on the ground sort of way.

Good to see they learned their lessons.

 

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