Ban the burka if you want, but the Charter deserves respect

Globe and Mail 16 December 2011
By Rod Mickleburgh

As I trudge the streets of Canada, I find few sights more depressing than women in full burkas, even if cool sneakers sometimes peek out at the bottom. It seems such a retreat from the splendors of life.

Yet the right of a woman in Canada to wear the burka or the niqab face veil in public is not an easy matter to assess. Should the state have the authority to ban the practice, as France has done? I’m not sure.

Which brings us to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s sudden edict that women in niqabs taking the oath of citizenship must lift their veils. Otherwise, according to the minister, their pledge to be faithful to Canada and Queen Elizabeth might be mumbled without anyone knowing. Apparently, no previous immigrant has ever done that before in this great land of ours.

But okay, there are valid arguments on both sides. Far more troubling is Mr. Kenney’s what-do-I-care response, when asked about the chance of legal objections to the ban.

"I’m sure they’ll trump up some stupid Charter of Rights challenge,” Mr. Kenney said.

This from a minister of the Crown, charged with upholding the laws of Canada? Shame.

The good old political game

There’s lots out there to make a fella blue, even if you’re Health Minister Mike de Jong. Cabinet just doesn’t have the same old zing without former ministerial live wires Iain Black, John van Dongen and Kevin Krueger around to keep the mind alive.

So whenever the damp, drizzly November in his soul brings the normally ebullient Health Minister down, Mr. de Jong revives his spirits with a shot of Danny Gallivan.

He goes to YouTube and calls up the unsurpassed play-by-play announcer’s call of the final few minutes and overtime of the legendary win by Montreal over the Don Cherry-coached Boston Bruins in the seventh game of their 1979 Stanley Cup semi-final. Suddenly, all is right in Mike’s world (...)