Repeal Citizenship Regulation 17.1.b

Canadian Media Continue to Promote Religious Privilege


A recent article in The Toronto Star reminds us of the niqab controversy from several years ago, and how Canadian elites supported extreme right-wing political Islam at that time, as they continue to do today.

Sommaire en français Un article récent du Toronto Star nous rappelle la polémique autour du niqab d’il y a plusieurs années et comment les élites canadiennes ont soutenu l’islam politique d’extrême droite à cette époque, comme elles continuent de le faire aujourd’hui.

Never underestimate the fatuity of Canadian mainstream media. There is no way that The Toronto Star can justify its recent publication of an asinine article by Haroon Siddiqui, under the title Will Charest and Brown force the Conservatives to confront their Islamophobia problem?. Siddiqui excoriates the Conservative Party, especially its former leader and prime minister Stephen Harper, for their so-called “Islamophobia,” in particular for Harper’s attempts to prevent the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

We all remember the events of 2015: the religious fanatic, Zunera Ishaq, succeeded in getting the courts to force the federal authorities to allow her to wear a niqab at her citizenship ceremony. This obscene situation, where the strictures of an extremely misogynistic and obscurantist medieval (or pre-medieval) politico-religious ideology were given precedence over common sense, was made possible by two things: (1) dubious Canadian legislation, especially article 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, and (2) the scurrilous Canadian media and political elites who regularly bully anyone who may disagree with their mollycoddling of Islamism by showering them with ridiculous accusations. For example, in a Feb. 16, 2016 article in the Globe & Mail, Gerald Caplan of the NDP declared that attempts to ban the niqab constituted a “demagogic racist campaign against the niqab by Mr. Harper and associates.” The idea that there could be anything “racist” about trying to restrain the spread of political Islam is beyond moronic.

At the time, the Harper government was vilified for opposing so-called “barbaric cultural practices” but such opposition is eminently reasonable. Insisting that women wear the niqab anywhere and everywhere for religious reasons is certainly a barbaric practice, although I would not call it “cultural” but rather “anti-cultural.”

The problem with the Harper government of the day was that it did too little to try to stop Ishaq and her fanatical allies.

The problem with the Harper government of the day was that it did too little to try to stop Ishaq and her fanatical allies. Its efforts were limited to court appeals, i.e. it appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the 2015-10-05 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in Ishaq’s favour. The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, elected only two week later, simply withdrew that appeal.

The Harper government could have done much more, if it had acted earlier. It could, for example, have adopted legislation to repeal article 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, part of the Citizenship Act, which stipulates that the oath must be administered with “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.” That stipulation was one of the foundations on which Ishaq’s lawyers built their case.

But of course, the Conservative government would never consider repealing that article, because it would alienate their Christian base who would surely not tolerate the repeal of such an important religious privilege. Thus, Ishaq, Islamists and their anti-Enlightenment dupes were able to benefit from Christian bigotry in order to a further the agenda of political Islam.

The Conservatives favour Christianity because that is their tradition, while the Liberals and NDP favour Islam because it is the current fashion.

All three major federal political parties—Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives—are antisecular, pro-religious and utterly lacking in intellectual integrity whenever the issue of religiour privilege raises its ugly head. The Conservatives favour Christianity because that is their tradition, while the Liberals and NDP favour Islam because it is the current fashion.

Speaking of a lack of integrity, where were all those so-called “secular” organizations in Canada outside Quebec back in 2015? Why did they not all oppose the niqab at official ceremonies as any secularist must obviously do? Allowing such a religious privilege is a clear violation of the principle of religion-State separation as well as a violation of religious neutrality. It must be emphasized that religious neutrality does not mean the State should grant privileges equally to all religions! On the contrary, it means that privileges cannot be justified for religious reasons if such privileges are not also allowed for non-religious ideologies.

If there had been a secular movement in Canada outside Quebec in 2015, that movement would have massively opposed allowing religious privileges at citizenship ceremonies. Similarly, if there were a secular movement in Canada outside Quebec today, in 2022, it would currently be fighting massively in support of Quebec Bill 21 and against the hysterical opposition to that very reasonable legislation.

A Léger Marketing poll at the time of the niqab controversy indicated that 82% of Canadians favoured banning face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies, while the percentage was even higher in Quebec. Thus, so-called “secular” organizations in English Canada are hypocrites who are less secular than the majority of ordinary Canadians.

Next blog: The Patriots of Lower Canada