Monday, January 24, 2011

Ignatieff Shows Leadership

When four kirpan-wearing Sikhs were not allowed in the National Assembly in Quebec City, Ignatieff showed leadership. He defended their right to wear the ceremonial dagger in public areas such as the House of Commons. This comes as the Bloc Québecois wants to ban the kirpans from being worn in Parliament. Ignatieff and Layton are right to defend the rights of ethnicities to continue practicing their culture. Especially when those four Sikhs were at the National Assembly to testify at a hearing on accommodation. The kirpan is a cultural item and Ignatieff is right to defend it.
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.
Read more at the Globe and Mail.
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  1. I dang near swallowed my gum when the G&M said something good about Ignatieff's leadership. (But maybe what likes to call itself our national newspaper just needed a moment of self-respect.)

  2. It's not just a "cultural item". It is a required religious item for "baptized" Sikhs, and is protected under the Constitution of Canada as such. A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision also backs the Sikh Community on this issue.

    Good post... Iggy really took a bold and firm stand on this matter of basic religious rights.

  3. Why does something being "religious" instantly make it more special than cultural? As a person of no religion, I have no right to wear concealed knives or weapons, and yet those who claim it's mandated by their God get that right. This means we have different laws for different people - the essence of discrimination.

    As far as my understanding goes, there are Sikhs who wear symbolic kirpans - that is something like a cross necklace that cannot be used as a weapon (any more than a pen can be). It is absurd to me that just because someone says 'religious freedom' that they get a free pass on what is a safety issue for everyone else.

    Either everyone gets to bring a knife or no one does.

  4. Thank you, WesternGrit. I appreciate your complement.


    It depends on your intent. You said it right there. You have no right to wear a concealed weapon. The Sikhs have the right to wear a ceremonial item. If you have an item that belongs to your culture, be free to wear it.

  5. I agree with Ian. What is so special about a religious belief that it trumps other considerations including public safety? If the justification for a rule is so flimsy that we can make exceptions for "religion" maybe we should think about not having the rule at all! Maybe we should all be able to carry around knives. If they are as non-dangerous as the SCC implied by comparing them to bats and hockey skates why have rules against them?

    And if we are going to make exceptions for cultures what kinds of "cultures" count? Just ethno-national cultures? What about subcultures or countercultures like goths, skater punks, hippies, etc.

    Of course its easier to just call people who ask such questions "bigots".

  6. Wouldn't it be nice if the people who made the law understood it? It's like trying to explain that I can quite legally carry an unloaded shotgun in public, but that can be reasonably (or unreasonably) restricted. The facts are any one of us can carry a knife pretty much anywhere we wish with certain restrictions. One of them is that I cannot carry it into the houses of parliament. While we may be willing to allow exceptions based on religious grounds I would expect that the exception be reasonable. Just saying a knife is "ceremonial" is not enough. If it is simply a symbol then it need not be drawn nor does it need to be large nor sharp. Yet some of the "ceremonial" kirpans I have seen are quite large, easily drawn, and rather sharp. Are you advocating we close our eyes to that or should we reasonably expect that those kinds of kirpans will not be allowed in parliament or a school?

    I suspect the Sikhs trying to enter the Quebec assembly were within the definition of reasonable and should have been allowed entry. However, I don't think many people to the left of the spectrum remember that one modifying word.

  7. A kirpan can be as long and as sharp as the owner wants. But if he wants to bring it into the federal parliament, or into public school, there are restrictions. These restrictions make it no more dangerous than a butter knife. So for all those rednecks opposed to this, go back into your whole and figure out something more sensible to hate. Good post happy! (By the way, this is the first time in a long time this Liberal has been impressed with Ignatieff. Heck it might just be the first time period. But it is unlikely he'll keep this up.)

  8. How can it be leadership if everyone is doing the same thing? I haven’t heard anyone come out and support the ban on kirpans, even the wingnuts from Quebec.

  9. Its leadership because no one was defending these people when Quebec separatists were attacking them. No one except for Ignatieff, then the rest followed. That's leadership. Harper, however, has been completely silent. That's cowardice.

  10. Actually Riden, the Bloc spoke in Parliament in support of the ban.. Ignatieff stood up for minority rights, and "our PM" said nothing. Zilch. Nada. His silence is telling.

    To the uninformed on this blog comment section, the kirpan is part of a baptised Sikh's required wardrobe. It symbolizes standing up for the oppressed. It is manufactured duller than a butter knife. Sikhs around the world have worn them in various public venues: With the Queen and Royal Family, at international events, etc. On airline flights the larger kirpan is stored in the pilot's locksafe, and a smaller version (penknife length) is worn..., but it is indeed always worn. The actual kirpan has been defended by the constitution and recent Supreme Court rulings.

    But it is enlightening (not) to see some of the more right wing reactions here... Reinforces everything we always knew about that crowd...

  11. If you say so...
    I'd bet most Canadians think this is just more Bloc-head stupidity and ignore it. They wore these kirpans since 2004 so it's no big thing, just more racism from Quebec.


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