Seems like a bad idea

Two interesting and semi-related developments spotted in the news feeds this morning.

First, Bill C-31 allows hijab-clad Muslim women to be accredited (via photo ID) to a polling station without comparing the photo ID to the individual’s real, live face.

While Muslim women will be asked for photo-id such as a driver’s license, they will not be required to remove their veil. A spokesman for Elections Canada tells CFRB that women may choose to remove the veil but if they opt not to, they can simply provide a second piece of identification in addition to the driver’s license. Women who choose not to unveil will also be given the opportunity to swear an oath and have another voter vouch for them, but Elections Canada says two veiled individuals will not be allowed to vouch for each other.

— Brian Lilley, “Muslim Women Don’t Need to Remove Veil to Vote“.  CFRB, September 6th, 2007.

Hopefully this generosity of spirit extends to non-Muslim women as well, otherwise there’s a troublesome dual standard for female identification at the polling station.  I don’t think Muslim women are any more prone to voter fraud than anyone else—probably less so—but why introduce variant forms of identity verification for the bedrock action of our pluralist democracy?  Seems wrong-headed.

UPDATE: See this follow-up post.  Apparently Bill C-31 is not nearly as clear-cut as the politicians would like to think.  It doesn’t actually require photo identification.

Second, King’s University College at UWO has decided to mount an Arabic inscription on one of its buildings.  This would normally not be a big deal, but the college is Catholic, and the inscription derives its inspiration and formal structure from the tughra—calligraphic seal—of the Ottoman sultans.  There are other forms of tughra that take the shapes of animals or winged hearts, but this particular derivation is very clearly based on that of the Ottoman sovereigns.


Barbara Kay at the National Post is up in arms over it, finding it curious that the creator makes no mention of the Ottoman tughras—despite the obvious stylistic resemblance—in her commentary.

Not being Catholic or Muslim I don’t really have a dog in the fight, except to say that if a Catholic artist attempted to pull a similar fast one on a madrassa—like creating a “Peace and Unity” exhibit in the form of a Commonwealth Cross of Sacrifice—I don’t think anyone would be bamboozled.

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One Response
  1. What exactly are these bums being paid for?

    Chris Selley points out why the Chief Electoral Officer is correct, and niqab-wearing women can vote while veiled. Bill C-31 is actually an incredibly sloppy and ridiculous piece of legislation that simply doesn’t require photo identification for proof…