When in Rome... we are asked to do as Romans do... So it's only right then that when in Canada, we do as Canadians do. Yes?
The federal government has announced it is placing a ban on face coverings for people who are swearing their oath for Canadian citizenship – this will include coverings such as niqabs and burkas. Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney says he doesn't accept that it's a religious obligation to wear a veil as when Muslim women perform their ceremonial and traditional pilgrimage to Mecca (required by their faith) they do not have to cover their faces.
"It's a cultural tradition, which I think reflects a certain view about women that we don't accept in Canada. We want women to be full and equal members of Canadian society and certainly when they're taking the citizenship oath, that's the right place to start," says Kenney. "We cannot have two classes of citizenship ceremonies..." Kenney also says he's heard complaints from MPs and citizenship court judges that it's hard to tell whether people with their faces covered are actually reciting the oath of citizenship, which he says is a requirement to become Canadian.
Now to me this just makes sense. If I travel abroad I'm fully aware there are certain cultural differences – in fact, it's a big part of why I like to travel – but if I really didn't agree with those differences or couldn't bend a little to accommodate them I simply wouldn't go and I certainly wouldn't move there. A person has to have respect for another's customs and traditions, especially if WE are ASKING to integrate with THEM. Everybody has the right to choose and to be who they are but if Canada's citizenship rules say you can't cover your face when you are taking this oath – for whatever the reason – then that's just the way it is and you should have to accept that. If you ask me, that's a small price to pay to be a Canadian. We're not asking people to completely change their attire and/or to alter who they are, it's simply requested – for that one small moment in time – to see your face and your lips move as you take an oath. Religious beliefs or not, I really don't think this is unreasonable to ask, nor do I think it's a knock against religious freedom.
We're a giving, welcoming and an accepting country, but if we are forced to give up all that makes us who WE are in the name of multiculturalism then what will that mean for Canada in the long run?