As those of you who read this column on a limited or ongoing basis can attest, I'm a great defender of personal freedom. I argue passionately over the excesses that I believe are imposed against the English and minorities in Quebec.
That being said, I must denounce the sanctimonious admonitions of Quebec's position in regard to the niqab, offered by liberal know-it-alls, on the op-ed pages in many Canadian newspapers. I take great offence to having our Quebec collectivity attacked as intolerant or racist, just because we are having a legitimate debate on the limits of religious fundamentalism in our province.
Quebec doesn't need lessons in democracy from anyone. We have legitimate and critical differences, based on the precarious state of the French fact in Canada as well as the precarious state of Anglophones in Quebec. These debates affect our lives and are not academic exercises in some debating class.
So in Quebec we are used to talk, real debate, where issues that affect our daily lives are examined publicly with an objective to controlling our own destiny.
Just this week the city of Montreal tolerated the fourteenth annual march by anarchists that has once again invariably resulted in destruction of public property. Every year, there are calls to limit or ban this march of idiots and every year the consensus remains- that to attack these moron's right to protest, is to attack our very own liberty. So we endure the mayhem, year after year.
So Canada, don't lecture us that we are simple-minded intolerants.
Should there be a debate over the niqab?
You bet there should be.
In Canada, we all accept that religious and personal freedom is not absolute. We place limits on acts or behavior where they conflict with our fundamental beliefs in democracy, equality and freedom of person.
We don't allow anyone, in the name of religious or personal freedom to marry a minor, refuse a blood transfusion for a loved one, make animal sacrifices, engage in polygamy or mutilate the body of young girls. All these practices are legal somewhere else in the world but not here. Those who want to import these concepts to Canada are in for a rude awakening.
So the debate over the niqab is just another legitimate debate in regards to religious fundamentalism.
Liberals will argue that the niqab is just a piece of clothing, but it is anything but. Regardless of personal choice, the niqab tells women that they are unworthy of being seen in public, or that the public (men) are unworthy of seeing them. Women, who in the guise of religious modesty tell society that they cannot interact with men, violate our basic principle and tenant of an egalitarian society. To indulge this precept is to diminish what we are.
Many women who wear a veil talk about personal choice as if it is the Holy Grail (excuse the Christian connotation) of dispensation (again..err). On the basis of personal choice people defend all sorts of stupid behaviour, but it doesn't make it acceptable. Society can legitimately place limits on stupid and destructive choices.
There is an underlying truth that women who wear the niqab are second class citizens in the matrimonial home, regardless of what they say. It is a symbol of subjugation, again, regardless of what they say.
Quebec has acted boldly in saying no to this religious extreme. We have as much right to ban the niqab as we have to ban other religious excesses. It isn't racist or intolerant and it sends a clear message to those who would come to live among us.
While Quebec is branded intolerant by the liberal press in Canada, the vast majority of citizens in Canada are silently in agreement with our position and respect our decision to face the issue.
I'm sure the citizens of France, England, Holland, Denmark and the other European countries overrun by Islamist fundamentalists, rue the day that they didn't stop to decide on the future course of their country.
Quebec is not intolerant of Muslims, Quebec is afraid of extremism and like it or not, the niqab is part and parcel of that extremism.
Quebec is showing a degree of bravery that the other governments of Canada are loath to undertake.
No matter, the people will decide. Once the principle of no veils in public is established in Quebec, the other provinces will gain the political fortitude to do the same. Fundamentalists will understand that they will be challenged and that Canada will not accept their principles of exclusion, nor accept their misogynist practices.
I hope the rest of the country will thank us for having the intestinal fortitude to confront what is inherently anti-Canadian, even if we are mere Quebeckers.
One day, perhaps you will thank us.