Why Are Niqabs An Election Issue?

I have to ask, because I’d like a Conservative who honestly feels that this issue is one upon which our election should hinge and upon which the future of our entire country and indeed our very way of life hinges now to explain it to me in a way that makes sense. It seems important to them, so I want to understand. I want to understand because as it is, I just don’t get it. I don’t get how somebody’s choice of dress impacts whether or not I have money in my pocket, or a comfortable place to live, or food on my table, or clean water in my taps, or breathable air in my front yard, or safe roads for our cars and public transit or literally anything else that I need to be concerned about day to day. I don’t get how I am harmed by a religious custom that, while I don’t personally agree with it, doesn’t harm another living soul.

Somebody on the National the other night summed it up perfectly. I’ll paraphrase as best I can since I don’t remember exactly what he said.

To me, the niqab is regressive and creepy, but this is Canada. We have the right to dress regressive and creepy.

And rights are really what this is all about, when you get down to the meat of it. Specifically the removal of them from a certain set of people, which is something that, if Canada really is what I’ve always been told it is and have generally known it to be, none of us should stand for. Canadians are, as a rule, a kind people. A helpful people. A welcoming people. A respectful people. A people that usually understand a concept as simple as I don’t have to like everything about you to like you. This niqab garbage undermines all of that. It seeks to turn us into a racist, fearful lot that will sacrifice freedoms at the drop of a hat because our government says it should be so, especially if those freedoms belong to someone else and we don’t quite understand them. That’s not what Canada is or should be all about. Never has been, never will be.

Listen. I understand that some of you are going to vote for Stephen Harper no matter what because in your heart of hearts, you truly believe he’s doing a good job. I think you’re wrong, but that’s ok. Despite what he’s been telling you, differences are not things to be feared. But if you’re an undecided voter like me who isn’t loyal to any single party, I’m begging you, don’t let this be the issue that swings you Conservative. At best it’s a non-issue, but at worst it really might be one that our way of life does hinge upon, just not in the way Stephen Harper and his party would like you to think.

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