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Canada Sikhs With Kirpan Not Allowed in Quebec Legislature

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

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    A group of four Sikhs scheduled to make a presentation at Quebec's national assembly Tuesday morning were denied entry to the legislature because they refused to remove their kirpans.

    The representatives of the World Sikh Organization were scheduled to address the legislative committee looking at Bill 94, the proposed law on the reasonable accommodation of the religious and cultural practices of minorities in the Quebec civil service and society in general.

    The four, who travelled to Quebec City from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, said they called national assembly security Monday to ask if their religious ceremonial daggers would present a problem.

    After receiving conflicting responses, the men said they decided to come anyway.

    When they arrived, security guards offered them the option to put the kirpan in a safe place, but they refused and were denied entry.

    "This decision was taken by the security services, solely for security reasons," said Parti Québécois assembly member Bernard Drainville, the chair of the committee on reasonable accommodation.

    In the Sikh religion, it is forbidden to remove the kirpan, which is kept against the skin under clothing.
    If Ottawa allows them, why not Quebec?

    In the Sikh religion, it is forbidden to remove the kirpan, which is kept against the skin under clothing. (CBC)In the Sikh religion, it is forbidden to remove the kirpan, which is kept against the skin under clothing. (CBC) Both the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa and the Supreme Court of Canada allow kirpans.

    One member of the group, Balpreet Singh, said he thinks it's a shame that the federal Parliament makes accommodations for Sikhs wearing the kirpan, but Quebec's national assembly does not.

    "Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to enter because we wear the kirpan, which is a bit ironic because we were here to speak upon the issue of accommodation and we weren't accommodated," said Singh.

    Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Kathleen Weil said the rule was established by security officials at the national assembly.

    "[The national assembly] is an independent institution, there are different directives, courthouses can also establish those kinds of rules, airports, different parliaments," said Weil.
    Not the first time

    This is not the first incident involving kirpans at Quebec's national assembly.

    A year ago, a group of 20 Sikhs were invited to the legislature by a Liberal MNA. Only the leader of the group was allowed to keep the smaller of his two kirpans, and he was escorted by heavy security.

    Parti Québécois MNA Louise Beaudoin said she agrees with the decision made Tuesday to bar Sikhs from entering with kirpans.

    "It may be a religious choice, but maybe it's not a choice that everybody should accept everywhere," said Beaudoin.

    The security department at the assembly said it considers the kirpan a weapon, and will continue to ban them unless given specific orders from Quebec politicians to the contrary.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2011/01/18/sikhs-denied-entry-nat-***-quebec.html
     

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  3. spnadmin

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    Invited to Quebec legislature, Sikhs then barred for carrying kirpans

    They came to the National Assembly to support a woman’s religious right to wear a niqab in Quebec but four members of the World Sikh Organization of Canada were turned away because of another religious flashpoint – the kirpans they were carrying.

    The four Sikhs had been invited to appear before a legislative committee debating a bill that deals with the reasonable accommodation of religious minorities. But the group never got through the metal detectors at the entrance of the National Assembly building as security agents ruled the kirpans, or ceremonial daggers, they carried were a potential weapon.

    More related to this story

    “It’s a bit ironic. We were here to speak on the issue of accommodation and we weren’t accommodated,” said the group’s legal counsel, Balpreet Singh. “An accommodation should be able to be made. An accommodation exists at the Parliament of Canada. An accommodation exists at the Supreme Court of Canada and legislatures across Canada. I don’t think it should be a problem here in Quebec.”

    The incident overshadowed the conclusion of an eight-month hearing over a controversial bill that prohibits anyone from covering their face when receiving certain government services. Bill 94 takes direct aim at the wearing of the niqab, which has been viewed as a symbol of submission of women and a violation of their equality rights.

    The Sikhs were to appear before the committee to defend a view argued by other religious groups – that Bill 94 “would set a dangerous precedent.” While the Sikh faith forbids women from to cover their face, they nonetheless argue that “forcing people to abandon certain cultural or religious practices is not the Canadian way and it is not productive.”

    But the Quebec way is different, the Parti Québécois argues. Louise Beaudoin, the party’s designated critic on secularism, called for even tighter restrictions on religious freedoms whenever they clash with fundamental rights such as the equality between men and women.

    “Religious freedom exists but there are other values. For instance, multiculturalism is not a Quebec value. It may be a Canadian one but it is not a Quebec one,” she said.

    Ms. Beaudoin supported the security agents’ decision to prohibit access to the four Sikhs when they refused to remove their kirpans.

    Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, Kathleen Weil, was careful not to criticize the security measures but attempted to reassure the Sikh community that its arguments will be considered.

    “There’s no second guessing the [security agents’] decision,” Ms. Weil insisted. “I want to tell [the Sikh community] that I hear their message and tell them that Quebec society is an open society and open to pluralism and that reasonable accommodations are something we believe in.”

    Tuesday’s incident could evolve into yet another court battle. Mr. Singh said the Sikh community will “examine all our options” if the National Assembly refuses to changes its security measures.

    But head of security Pierre Duchesne said he doesn’t believe the rules should be changed. “In my opinion it [the kirpan] is a knife … It isn’t because it’s worn by a Sikh and that it’s a religious symbol that at some point it won’t be used by a crackpot. Sikhs can also have mental problems,” he said.

    In 2006 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in favour of the Sikh faith after a Montreal school board had banned wearing of the kirpan in class. The court concluded that the total ban infringed on religious freedoms and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the ruling allowed school boards to impose restrictions that would make sure the kirpan was safely sealed in a sheath and placed in a secure envelope strapped to the shoulder.

    The kirpan ruling sparked a fiery debate on religious freedoms in Quebec, a discussion that has continued with the controversy over wearing the niqab.

    Another incident involving the kirpan last February was resolved without incident when a group of Sikhs from a Montreal temple accepted to leave their kirpan at the door to attend a ceremony at the National Assembly.

    “There are precedents,” Ms. Beaudoin said in insisting that reasonable accommodations was a two-way street.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Court rulings determine kirpan limits

    There have been a number of court rulings that have determined where Sikhs can carry the kirpan.

    A 2006 Supreme Court of Canada ruling allowed for students to wear the kirpan in class. However, the court said that for public-safety reasons schools, boards could demand that the ceremonial dagger be secured inside clothing and out of reach. The case involved a Montreal school board’s suspension of a Sikh boy.

    The decision supported a much earlier ruling involving the Peel Board of Education when the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1991 concluded that a policy prohibiting the wearing of the kirpan discriminated against Sikhs on the basis of their faith.

    In the case of air travel, a ban has been strictly enforced. International standards imposed a strict prohibition against all sharp objects, including the kirpan, regardless of a person’s religion or culture. In 1999, the Canadian Human Rights Commission decided that a demand to wear the kirpan on airplanes did not constitute a reasonable accommodation.

    The decision has been different for rail transportation. In December, 2006, Via Rail changed its policy to allow the kirpan to be worn on trains.

    While the vast majority of provincial legislatures as well as Parliament allow wearing of the kirpan in their buildings, courts have been reluctant to follow suit. Last April, a Windsor, Ont., judge refused to allow a Sikh leader to carry the kirpan in the courtroom.

    The kirpan was not considered a security risk at last year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics where secured kirpans with blades no longer than four inches were allowed.

    - Rhéal Séguin

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news...n-barred-for-carrying-kirpans/article1874725/
     
  4. Archived_Member16

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    Globe Editorial
    A cowed legislature, a banned kirpan

    From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
    Published Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 7:30PM EST
    Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 7:41AM EST

    By barring four kirpan-wearing Sikh men from public hearings on reasonable accommodation on Tuesday, the Quebec National Assembly failed to live up to its obligation to promote the widest possible participation in the democratic process.

    Where is the leadership to cool passions associated with the current debate around minority religious observances? The wearing of the kirpan by Sikh schoolchildren in Montreal was the most inflammatory part of an inflamed, province-wide debate. The Supreme Court of Canada gave its unanimous support to the wearing of the kirpan five years ago. Reason should long ago have prevailed over passion, especially in the seat of government.

    Committee chairman Bernard Drainville, a Parti Québécois MNA, should have suspended the hearings until the issue could be settled by discussion. The hearings focus on Bill 94, which would limit the wearing of Islamic face coverings by users of public services. To bar those who observe minority religions such as Sikhism is to render the committee’s work incomplete and, frankly, ridiculous from the start. Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, sponsor of the bill, said she would not comment on a decision of National Assembly security. The opposition PQ, leaping to exploit the passions, said the face-covering bill does not go far enough. But Ms. Weil’s silence is worse, an abdication of duty.

    It is fair to set regulations around the size of the kirpan and how it is secured and sheathed. But it is wrong to bar it completely. British Columbia does not do so. Ottawa does not do so. Imagine the hostile message to religious minorities if the kirpan-wearing Liberal MP Navdeep Bains and others were barred from Parliament.

    Sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor wrote movingly in their government-sponsored report 2½ years ago on accommodation about the need for French-speaking Quebec to find common ground with immigrants and minorities. It is hard to be optimistic when government itself is so cowed.

    source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/a-cowed-legislature-a-banned-kirpan/article1874913/
     
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  5. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. This one statement says it all:

    Quebec considers itself part of Canada when they see something to gain, otherwise they see themselves as, well, Quebec. Just remember, as there is no accounting for the French, there is even less accounting for the Quebecois. Do not look for logic. You'll go crazy trying to find it.

    Don`t get me wrong. I am a Quebecker. I love Quebec. I`m just not blind. And I don't want my beloved fellow SPNers going insane looking for logic where there is none.

    Forgive me, my fellow Quebeckers, for telling our secret; you know I'm telling the truth.
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    Mai ji

    I know you are telling the truth. I had so many experiences there during only a week long stay that were stunning examples. Including that of a hotel security guard who refused to direct me to the nearest ladies' room unless I would ask him in French. This happened in restaurants, and other locations, in spite of the rule requiring bi-lingual education in schools to include English -- a law that had been in place from the mid-1970's I believe.
     
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  7. Archived_Member16

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    PQ demonizes minorities to advance separatism

    January 20, 2011

    Haroon Siddiqui - Editorial page editor emeritus - THE STAR, Toronto


    When a majority feels threatened by minorities, it’s a society lacking self-confidence and wallowing in victimhood. That’s Quebec these days.
    It has whipped itself into a frenzy — first, over Orthodox Jews, then Muslims in general and niqab-wearing women in particular, and now, kirpan-carrying Sikhs.

    This is ironic and sad.

    A Catholic majority that rightly ended the historic domination by the Protestant minority in Quebec, and ensured a reblossoming of the minority French language in a sea of English North America is now demonizing its own minorities.

    At the very least, it’s letting politicians exploit collective insecurities by claiming that majority mores are imperiled by minority demands.

    What makes it worse is that it’s the Parti Québécois that’s playing this dirty game to resurrect itself and breathe life into its failed separatist project. It has put the government of Jean Charest on the defensive, forcing him to play catch-up.

    But it’s really the premier’s own fault, dating back to 2007.

    Mario Dumont of Action démocratique was making headway campaigning against immigrants and minorities. Charest ducked and set up a commission on reasonable accommodation. The ploy did not work, as his Liberals were reduced to a minority and Dumont became leader of the opposition.

    The commission got an earful from witnesses that their society was being changed for the worse by Jews, Sikhs and especially Muslims. But in its 2008 report, the commission said there was no crisis. Minorities were not making unreasonable demands. And it laid down sensible guidelines for majority-minority relations in a secular, democratic society.

    With the crisis diffused, Charest called a snap election in December 2008, and won back his majority, crushing Action démocratique and triggering Dumont’s exit from politics.

    Enter the PQ’s Pauline Marois, picking up his banner of identity politics. She railed against Orthodox Jews wanting to open their separate schools on Sundays (to make up for activities interrupted by the Saturday Sabbath). She wanted the niqab banned.

    Charest half obliged. He allowed Jewish schools on Sundays but introduced an anti-niqab bill last year. Those not showing their face would be denied all government services, including health care.

    Those opposing the draconian bill included the Jewish Orthodox Council of Quebec. On Tuesday, a group of Sikhs went to the National Assembly to do the same. But they were denied entry because they were carrying kirpans, even though there’s no such ban in Parliament or other provincial assemblies. (OnWednesday, the Bloc Québécois jumped on the PQ bandwagon and demanded a ban in Parliament.) There’s also the unanimous 2006 Supreme Court ruling in a Quebec case that schools cannot ban kirpans, only place some limitations for safety.

    Such give-and-take already also governs the niqab, with women lifting their veils for purposes of identification, passport and security.

    Yet the PQ keeps stoking the fires. It said that a ban on the kirpan be included in the anti-niqab bill. It anchored the demagoguery in its anti-Canadian creed.

    “Multiculturalism may be a Canadian value but it’s not a Quebec one,” said Louise Beaudoin, PQ critic for secularism. “We haven’t signed the Constitution of Canada because it contains this notion of multiculturalism.”
    This is revisionist nonsense. Quebec was the only province not to sign the 1982 Constitution but not necessarily for that reason. Besides, Quebec is not immune from Canadian law, especially as laid down by the Supreme Court.

    Yet, the Charest Liberals demurred. Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil refused to take a stand, talking vaguely about “pluralism” and “openness.”
    This is empty rhetoric. Liberals need to stand up for liberal, democratic, secular principles, including freedom of religion and protection from those who attack its expression — as in the vandalism at six Jewish institutions in Montreal over the weekend.

    Sending police after the fact is only the reactive stage of a governmental process that begins with engendering respect for diverse peoples rather than mollycoddling the bigots braying at them.

    Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears on Thursday and Sunday. hsiddiqui@thestar.ca

    source:
    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/924878--siddiqui-pq-demonizes-minorities-to-advance-separatism
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    Well, I have several thoughts as to the why and how this persists. But a better question to ask is how minorities will find any protection? How do they move forward?

    People of Quebec province are French speaking, Catholic minority, within Canada at large. What is ironic is how cultural memory works. At one time the French were thrown out of Canada in large numbers by their British/Protestant colonizers. They were the Acadians. They were French speakers. They were Catholics. Today we call them Cajuns. They were exiled and left Canada by foot marching thousands of miles under great hardship to what is now Louisiana. What are members of religious minorities in Quebec province supposed to do?
     
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  9. a.mother

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    Lack of knowledge about other religon, people and history create these kind of problem. People who shut their own doors for knowledge get scared from KIRPANS or etc, etc,etc. They don't know even a single pen can harm someone . And I think Quebecers are that educated who can carry a simple pen in thier pockets. And these politician need always MASALA for getting votes.
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    The same thing is happening here. Wherever there are large number of immigrant minorities. And it gets worse when economic conditions are poor.
     
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  11. a.mother

    a.mother Canada
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    spnadmin ji you are right. Politician always wants to drive people away from real problems,and thats what they are doing it. Whenever any state or country need work force they invite people from abroad and then some time they are asking for rights then they CALLED IMMIGRANTS or OROUTSIDERS.
     
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  12. spnadmin

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    Yes, a.mother ji

    Immigrants/outsiders were invited and sponsored in the first place to build our national economies, when there was no native workforce to do the work, or no one wanted to do it. The children of Sikh immigrants went on to excel in the professions and business. New waves of Sikh immigrants once again fill in the gaps in the local workforce.

    This has been the case with Sikhs in Canada, and the northwest US. Sikhs worked dangerous jobs in the lumber industry, as lumberjacks and in mills. Sikhs built railroads under deplorable conditions. Sikhs worked in mines. Sikhs served as day laborers in the farms, orchards and vineyards of the Pacific coast and valleys. Now in the Fresno area, Sikhs are major players among landowning farmers. I can remember in the past 5 years Punjabi Sikh farmers were courted by Canada to sell farms in Punjab and develop farmland in the Central/north provinces for Canada's agricultural development. If you are looking for contributors, not takers, bet on Sikhs. Sikhs have been part of the development of the economies of Canada and the US for more than a century -- and now what?
     
  13. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    And then "They" get blamed for all our problems.

    Scapegoating is a very old and ugly practice. You can always find someone - usually some obvious minority - to blame for anything. It's much easier than defining and solving the problem in a logical manner. Blame the Muslims, blame the Jews, blame the Mexicans or the gays or us. Just blame some group, get after them, get rid of them and all our problems will be solved!

    Whether it's kirpans or niqabs in Quebec or Mexicans in the USA, Jews in Germany or the Roma everywhere, it's all the same thing. Us (the good guys) and them (the bad guys). I find being a Sikh right now is confusing. As a Quebecker, I seem to be both Us (the good guys) and Them (the bad guys).

    When are we going to grow up?

    :sippingcoffee:
     
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  14. a.mother

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    spnadminji you have cover all those parts of our lives thats showes how hard we works.
    I am looking at other side on ctv montreal news on same topic . I don't understand why people think we are the second class citizens .Those are who is talking loud they concider them self like NATIVE .
     
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  15. Archived_Member16

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    Kirpan demands 'respect,' Ignatieff tells Quebec

    Montreal— The Canadian Press
    Published Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 4:18PM EST
    Last updated Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 5:35PM EST

    The Liberal Party has defended the right of devout Sikhs to wear religious ceremonial daggers in legislatures, chiding a Bloc Québécois proposal to ban their presence in Parliament.

    The announcement by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Thursday, which echoes the position of the NDP, makes it clear that any attempt to ban the kirpan would face resistance in Parliament.

    That puts Mr. Ignatieff at odds with the Quebec National Assembly, which earlier this week barred entry to a group of Sikhs who were wearing their kirpans.

    It now appears clear that the Bloc would never receive the all-party consensus it needs to have the Board of Internal Economy declare the kirpan a security threat.

    "The kirpan is not a weapon," Mr. Ignatieff told reporters in Montreal. "It's a religious symbol and we have to respect it."

    Those comments leave the Conservative government as the only remaining national party that has yet to take a position on the issue.

    Requests for comment from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is responsible for multiculturalism, were met with a response that he was travelling on Wednesday and again on Thursday. The Prime Minister's Office also declined to comment.

    On Thursday a Kenney spokesman sent the following emailed response: "Our Government does not believe parliamentary security should be directed by partisan politics. Specific questions on the security of the House of Commons should be directed to the Sergeant-at-Arms."

    The issue surfaces on the same week that the Tories have made a visible display of wooing the Sikh vote in suburban Toronto.

    A party candidate in Brampton-Springdale issued a news release this celebrating defections from the riding association of his rival, Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, and declaring that the Conservative Party cared about delivering results for new Canadians.

    At the same time the Tories are hoping to gain ground in Quebec – where the kirpan ban has ignited no major opposition and, based on initial reaction, may be quite popular.

    If the kirpan issue causes political dilemmas for some, the Liberals and NDP have taken an unequivocal line. New Democrats have already called the Bloc move shameful.

    When asked about the issue Thursday, Mr. Ignatieff replied that it should be treated as a question of religious freedom rather than simply a security matter.

    "All Canadians have the right to have access to democratic spaces and legislatures," he said in French. "I was sorry to hear about the Bloc's proposals on the issue."

    Mr. Ignatieff was in Montreal as part of a cross-country tour of ridings the Liberals will target in the next election. Among those ridings is Jeanne-Le Ber, which Liberals narrowly lost to the Bloc in 2008.

    source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/kirpan-demands-respect-ignatieff-tells-quebec/article1877737/
     
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  16. spnadmin

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    a.mother ji

    Again very troubling. Canada and the US are nations of immigrants. The only natives are the original Americans, the tribal peoples. And they were treated even worse. Humans can be a sorry lot.

    I have a friend who has written books on this very subject - the settlement of the American West specifically. He starts on the east coast in the 17th Century, and explains the history of progressive development of North America in each generation. Wave after wave of immigrants arrived, and then considered the immigrants to follow as lesser beings, intruders. Earlier immigrants thought of themselves as the true Americans. It is always an uphill battle for immigrants, and for the sake of our own souls important to remember the lessons learned when our time comes to greet the next group to arrive.
     
  17. spnadmin

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    There has been a significant level of criticism in the print and electronic media of the Quebec government, officials, and of provincialism in this story.

    an example from letters to the editor in The Gazette, today, in reference to this remark by Louise Beaudoin,
    “Multiculturalism may be a Canadian value but it’s not a Quebec one,” said Louise Beaudoin, PQ critic for secularism. “We haven’t signed the Constitution of Canada because it contains this notion of multiculturalism.”


    Small Minds

    I found Louise Beaudoin's reaction to the translation of the Sikh letter shameful. Having worked with many Sikhs over the years, I found that the majority spoke a minimum of four languages. To nitpick over a translation error only shows the small minds that seem to be prevalent in the Parti Quebecois

    When Beaudoin can write a letter in a language other than French without making an error, then maybe she can complain. This was nothing other than a diversion to make people forget that for all its rhetoric, the PQ is not inclusive.

    Brian Caldwell Montreal

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Small+minds/4136641/story.html#ixzz1BcbyJpNd


    Who is Louise Beaudoin? Small excerpt from www.Vigile.com or The Vigil

    Sovereignty strategist Louise Beaudoin on ‘Frenchification,’ Quebec’s self-confidence, and how to separate from Canada bit by bit

    Louise Beaudoin has been at the forefront of Quebec’s sovereignty movement for over 40 years. As a cabinet minister in three Parti Québécois governments, she was largely responsible for the province’s language laws. Now, as a Montreal-area MNA, she is one of the main architects of the party’s new ‘plan for a sovereign Quebec’, which would use ‘sectoral referenda’ in order to wrestle powers like taxation and culture away from Ottawa.

    Read more at this link: http://www.vigile.net/Sovereignty-strategist-Louise

    So the matter of Sikhs and kirpan may have also been hijacked to serve the political agenda of French separatists and the Quebec Independence movement, with no regard for Sikhs or kirpan. Sikhs and kirpan it would appear were a convenient political football to put the political opposition in Quebec in a corner with the voters.
     
  18. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    This is from the CBC. We need everyone to go vote ASAAP.


    Question of the Day

    Vote Now! Is the kirpan a religious symbol?

    The kirpan -- the ceremonial dagger worn by many Sikhs -- is not considered a weapon by law. Many Sikhs wear it in public places.

    Bloc MP Claude DeBellefeuille is proposing a ban on kirpans in the House of Commons. This came after four Sikhs wearing kirpans were denied entry into the Quebec National Assembly.


    You can participate in the CBC Poll at this link
    GO TO: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/insidepolitics/2011/01/question-of-the-day-273.html
     

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