Quebec Conservative seeks to ban the burka at the polling booth

Quebec Conservative MP Steven Blaney today will introduce a private member's bill which he says will “strengthen our democratic system.” He will do this by engaging in what my friend Paul Wells describes as the “ritual humiliation” of women who choose to wear a burka.  There has been much muttering, particularly in Quebec and from Quebec politicians of all stripes, that our democracy is somehow terribly threatened by the handful of women who show up at a polling place with all the proper forms of identification but who cast a ballot without showing a polling officer their face.

To prove that our democracy needs strengthening from this threat, Blaney and supporters of his legislation will have to demonstrate how our democracy was weakened in the last election by the more than 250,000 Canadians who voted by mail using a special ballot — without showing anyone their faces.

In other words: You must be against the burka at polling booths and against voting by mail or you must be in favour Elections Canada applying its very sensible voter identification policy — which does not in all cases require a visual identification. But if you seek to ban the burka but not ban voting by mail, then you look like a xenophobe for believing that “strengthening” a democracy means introducing legislation that is a veiled attack (and you'll forgive the pun) on a religious minority.


One thought on “Quebec Conservative seeks to ban the burka at the polling booth”

  1. Eminently logical. An all too rare quality these days.
    And this is also precisely why so much proposed legislation from the current government tends to run aground. The motives behind it may be pure and agreeable to many, but it is obsessed with specific circumstances/cases with little attempt to consider whether the proposed legislation is consistent with everything else the electorate, government, and law espouse. Legislation and policy based in response to specific events, rather than an enduring problem, usually turns out to be lousy policy, precisely because in its narrowness, it introduces problematic inconsistencies that make interpreting things in the future that much more difficult.
    If the only people in the world that voted without showing their face were women in various forms of Islamic facial modesty, then Blaney might have a case. But he appears to have simply neglected to ask the question “Is there anyone else who CAN legally vote without showing their face at the polling station?”

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