Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Leadership requires the willingness to take unpopular positions. Michael Ignatieff showed that willingness this week when he went to Quebec and defended Sikhs' right to wear the kirpan, a ceremonial dagger, in the Quebec National Assembly and other legislative buildings in Canada.

It seemed almost brave of him to do so. But can that be? Does it now take bravery to speak up for a minority group in Canada? If so, is Mr. Ignatieff the only brave leader? Is leadership in such short supply?

How ironic that in the current era, politicians trip over one another to offer apologies for historical injustices, and fall silent over a current injustice, such as when four kirpan-wearing Sikhs, including a lawyer, were turned away this week from government hearings in Quebec without being able to debate a bill that would limit religious freedom. (Bill 94 would put limits on the wearing of face veils by Muslim women when they seek public services.)

Story continues below advertisement

To listen to Quebec's Liberal government, or to the Conservative government in Ottawa, after the Bloc Québécois mischievously called for a ban on kirpans in Parliament, the rules around who can enter into and take part in public hearings are set by security officials. Really? Are security officials a law unto themselves? Who works for whom? Security officials are subject to parameters set by government. And government itself is subject to the law of the land, namely the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In this atmosphere in which multiculturalism is a bit of a laughingstock in Quebec, and in which the gentle wisdom of the universally respected sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor has been virtually forgotten, only Mr. Ignatieff stepped into the breach. It wouldn't be seen as exceptional if others had spoken up. The kirpan, he said, is not a weapon. "All Canadians have the right to access their democratic and parliamentary spaces," he said in Montreal.

Was this a political calculation? If so, it's just as likely he lost as many votes as he gained. Some day, when this or that policy battle is forgotten, acts of leadership will be remembered. Mr. Ignatieff provided one.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies