Thursday, September 13, 2007

Issues with facial coverings

I'm still not entirely sure why the federal Conservatives (and, more recently, also the Liberals) are making such a big issue out of people voting while wearing "facial coverings", even to the extent that the Prime Minister made a specific and rather embarrassing reference to it in front of the Australian parliament during an official visit.
Certainly, the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mayrand, seems to be intent on just carrying out the law as it was passed after full debate earlier this year. It seems a little strange that every political party and his dog is suddenly turning the vitriol on him now.
If they now believe that they messed up the original law, then put a revised law before parliament for due consideration. Don't just ask the Chief Electoral Officer to break it.
This is an issue which surfaces from time to time, most recently in the last Quebec elections, but frankly I'm not convinced that it is something on which the general populace has particularly strong views.
It seems to me that if people can vote by mail from abroad, or by proxy, in neither of which cases are identities physically checked, then it is a bit pointless getting upset about people wearing facial coverings, whether it be a niqab or a Batman mask.
If the tiny number of traditional Muslim women involved have not already been well and truly put off the voting process, then can we not just do what India and other countries has been doing for years and make sure there are women elections officer available to check identities (from my experience, most of the officers helping at the polling booths are women anyway)?
Do we really have to make such a song and dance about it?

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