Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, contrary to what I normally like to do in this House, I really do not want to be confrontational. However, I would like to explain to the House my concerns about this legislation.
The hon. parliamentary secretary said that it will not hurt anyone. She may be right but I am concerned that we are on a slippery slope here. We do one little thing, which the member says is not targeting, but I believe it is targeting. Catholics and Hindus do not wear burkas.
I am not sure the legislation intentionally targets anyone. However, since 9/11, the Muslim community has been extremely patient. They have been targeted at borders and targeted by police.
Fourteen members of a food security company, which was doing testing for the government, needed RCMP clearance. They were all immigrants. It took about four months longer to process the security clearance for the only Muslim in the group, Dr. Eshaq Shishani. To me the reason was fairly obvious. It was because he was a Muslim. He was stopped by the police one night. They opened the trunk of his car and found some documents on food radiation. Food radiation is a scientific process being done in the lab. Since the documents concerned radiation, the police officers handcuffed Dr. Shishani, strip-searched him and threw him in jail. He was allowed to wander home the next day with no apology being given. Can anyone tell me that is not targeting?
I am just concerned that we continue to go on thoughtlessly without really considering how these people are feeling.
We have heard so much debate on burkas. Other women have said that Muslim women should not wear burkas because it is the subjugation women. I thought being an independent woman was about having a choice, a choice to be a cookie baker, a choice to be a member of Parliament or a choice to wear a burka without condemnation and criticism. It is not a matter of saying who is right and who is wrong. We do too much of that.
Religious school funding was an issue during the last provincial election campaign. Who was targeted in Ontario? Who did the newspapers show as wanting this religious school funding? It was the Muslim schools. It was non-white schools. It was the Sikhs. News reports would do a little clip on religious rights or on Jewish schools but the target was fear and it was using the Muslim community and its schools as a weapon.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Canada Elections Act