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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Politicians Are Pandering Over "Veiled" Threats.

The silliness that has emerged over the “veiled threat” is unhelpful at so many levels. The allegations abound as to the motives. Some say it is political pander to Quebec angst over religious minorities in the face of the by-elections next week. Others say it is Harper taking on Elections Canada because he is ticked over them disallowing the advertising scheme the Cons did in the last election. Others accuse Harper of using this to change the channel on the advertising scam issues with Elections Canada and to focus on this voter identification issue.

Still others see this turn of events as politicians of all stripes talking out of both sides of their mouths since they all just agreed and passed the legislation amendments that enabled this silliness to prevail and now they are blaming the Elections Canada administration.

The Cons have added a partisan spin to this saying Dion is flip flopping on veiled voting. The Cons make a stretch in their own credulity when one day he says he does not like Election Canada’s decision and asks them to revisit it. Two days later Dion say he still disagrees with Elections Canada decision not to revisit it but he can live with the law as it is. A visit to the CPC official website shows Dion's picture 3 times and Harper's only once. Are the Cons that afraid of Dion?

This is no Dion flip flop it is enlightened accommodation. How you ask? The Muslim community itself has said women are more than prepared to raise their veils and identify themselves – provided it is to another woman. In fact they do it now when doing banking, crossing a border or writing an exam.

People have a responsibility to reveal their identities for purposes of voting. That problem is solved in very practical terms already according to Muslim leaders. Those veiled woman will willingly show their faces to another female official at the polling station for purposes of identification. That is no different to my mind than same-sex personal security searches at airports. So the posturing and pandering around this stuff is pointless and obviously purely political…and the politicians involved should be embarrassed.

What I am really wondering about all this is why a women would choose to submit to such attire in a free and democratic society like Canada in the first place. I know I have a lot to learn about this culture and its beliefs. I have made some effort to try and understand but I have to admit – I don’t get it as to why women are wearing burkas, abayas and niquabs in Canada. It is still pretty foreign to my values and very hard to comprehend.

What that leads me to wonder is will our high minded and principled politicians do when a woman wishes to breach such religious requirements? Will they rush to her aid and support her individual expression of her rights in the face of some inevitable cultural-community pressures? Or will they choose to run for cover themselves?