SYDNEY and TORONTO — The Prime Minister moved against Canada's Chief Electoral Officer yesterday, warning that a decision to allow Muslim women to vote even if they refuse to confirm their identity by showing their faces at the polling station goes against the very will of Parliament.
Mr. Harper said the decision, which has exploded in controversy just days ahead of three federal by-elections in Quebec, must be reversed.
Parliament adopted a law this past spring that required the visual identification of voters, he said. "That was a law adopted, I think, virtually unanimously by Parliament and I think this decision goes in an entirely different direction," Mr. Harper told reporters.
"And I have to say that it concerns me greatly because the role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it's to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed. So, I hope they'll reconsider this decision, but in the meantime if that doesn't happen, arliament will have to consider what actions it's going to take to make sure that its Pintentions are put into place."
Oh, well, I guess we'll have to have it done democratically again. Elections Canada is so lucky, isn't it? More swift, strong action could've been taken, and it would've stung this leftomaverick state apparatus body, who is already trying to take free speech rights away from political parties by insisting on enforcing an unconstitutional Chretien-Liberal-made law restricting advertising spending.
Let's hope that the loony, inconsistent leftist Opposition doesn't suddenly change their mind out of any pressure from the powerful Islamic supremacist-imperialist lobby.
Unfortunately, the leftist Opposition is obsessed with only two things right now: "climate change" and ending Canada's participation in the fight against Islamofascism and terrorism.
UPDATE: The Bill passed by Parliament, Bill C-31 (2007), can be viewed here. Note that it is not a mere "summary", but the actual Bill in question.
I've reviewed it and have identified the subsections germane to the discussion at hand:
143. (1) Each elector, on arriving at the polling station, shall give his or her name and address to the deputy returning officer and the poll clerk, and, on request, to a candidate or his or her representative.
(2) If the poll clerk determines that the elector’s name and address appear on the list of electors or that the elector is allowed to vote under section 146, 147, 148 or 149, then, subject to subsection (3), the elector shall provide to the deputy returning officer and the poll clerk the following proof of his or her identity and residence:
(a) one piece of identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains a photograph of the elector and his or her name and address; or
(b) two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer each of which establish the elector’s name and at least one of which establishes the elector’s address.
(2.1) For greater certainty, the Chief Electoral Officer may authorize as a piece of identification for the purposes of paragraph (2)(b) any document, regardless of who issued it.
So there's the actual germane legalese copied and pasted directly from the Bill itself from the link I've just provided above.
Now back to the discussion: Was the Chief Electoral Officer justified, in light of the wording of the bill, to indicate specific exemption of Muslim women with respect to whether a person is allowed or not allowed to hide their face when presenting self to the polling station officials for the purpose of obtaining a ballot for executing their vote? Did he have cause for making such a specific, narrow, exclusive decision for a very, very tiny minority within Canadian society?
Why did he deem it necessary to make this declaration? What did he think made it necessary?
Is he allowed, by law and by the exact duties of his position, to make this particular ruling, particularly when it discriminates in favor of one tiny group and excludes all other groups from its application? Isn't this contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Does his ruling effectively entail that only Muslim women are allowed to refuse to show themselves to polling station officials and that everyone else must keep their faces visible? Why only make a declaration about Muslim women? Why?
Why is it necessary to specifically exempt one identifiable group from something while everyone else is expected to behave in a manner consistent with certain accepted norms?
Does the legislation in Bill C-31 give the CEO any cause whatsoever to make such a specific ruling, as opposed to simply affirming that it doesn't require anyone to "show their face" regardless of whether they're a Muslim woman or just some ordinary guy? Can the ordinary guy vote while wearing a mask, a balaclava, clown makeup, a nylon stocking over his head... or perhaps a veil or burka? Or did the CEO rule only in favor of Muslim women?
Ah... guess what? The declaration indicates "face coverings for religious practices" (meaning Muslim women, we know full well, as who else does this, besides, perhaps Indian women, none of whom I can recall seeing with a face covering?)
You may read the transcript of the CEO's declaration here.
Ah. "For religious practices". But Bill C-31 does not address this at all. It is merely the decision of the CEO that it shall be so. Can he do this?
Why must it be restricted to "For religious practices"? Guess what? What if an atheist wanted to cover his/her face for atheistic reasons? What then? Will the polling station officials be allowed then to deny such a person a ballot?
OTTAWA, Thursday, September 6, 2007 — Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, reiterated the statutory requirements regarding the identification of electors wearing face coverings for religious practices.
There are several ways that electors can choose to prove their identity and residential address, some of which do not entail having to remove face coverings. There are, however, situations where an elector will be required to show her face before being able to vote.
If the elector presents an original government-issued photo identification that contains her name and residential address, the following options apply:
The elector may choose to unveil, OR
The elector can produce a second original piece of identification from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada’s authorized list of identification as proof of the individual’s identity, OR
Another elector registered in the same polling division who is able to produce satisfactory identification establishing his or her own identity and residential address could vouch for the elector. Both the voucher and vouchee would be required to make a sworn statement under oath. An elector can vouch only for one elector.
Oh, but wait...
If the elector presents only one original piece of government-issued photo identification (as described above) and does not possess a second identification from the authorized list, and cannot be vouched for by another elector, the elector will be asked by the election officer to show her face to establish identity. If the elector refuses to show her face, the elector will not be allowed to vote.
Interesting. Isn't it?
Did you notice one thing I noticed?
"The elector" being referred to is referred to as female only, not male or female, as is the "another elector".
Isn't this against the Charter? Doesn't this suggest that, clearly, the CEO had only women in mind and referred to "the elector" as a woman only, whereas the "another elector" is referred to in terms of "his or her"? Doesn't this indicate the frame of mind of the CEO in formulating and delivering his ruling?
Clearly the ruling applies, the reasonable person can conclude, to Muslim women, who are the only persons we can really think of who would insist on having their faces covered.
The ruling... was it really necessary? And why was it so deliberately narrowly defined?
Is it Constitutional or not? Is it legal? Is the CEO within his official bounds in making this specific ruling in the manner in which he has made it?
After all, the Bill doesn't address facial coverings. It does NOT provide, specifically, for any allowance of an elector to hide his/her face as long as one of the qualifications for voting is met.
Nevertheless, the CEO decided to make up his own law here. Can he do this? The Prime Minister doesn't think so.
And Canadians don't think so, including Muslim women, I'm advised by a commentor named Bruce Stewart (see the comments). It appears to be an offensive decision. It also has implications obviously unforseen by the CEO. Did he not realize that it would be very controversial, given the reality of the world with respect to the imperialist nature of Islam and of fundamentalist/extremist Islamists being clearly hellbent on imposing their ideology on the state?
Whatever happened to the leftwing doctrine of "Separation of (Mosque) and state"? Is this now dead?
Clearly, the Mosque and state are not separate in the mind of the Chief Electoral Officer.
Meanwhile, Christians continue to lose their long-held rights all over the place, sometimes being arrested for simply being in public, their mere presence deemed "offensive" to certain others. I've blogged about this, although mostly about such incidents happening in the United States. But we know it happens in Canada... as we witness Christian politicians being attacked... for simply being Christian, attacked in ways which would land the attacker in legal jeopardy or before the kangaroo-court Human Rights Commission, for, say, making a criticism or even speaking a truth about, say, a sexual minority group or about Islam/Muslims.
This issue is more far-reaching than some want to believe. It raises further, and broader questions, reminding us of comparative parallels which aren't being rectified for those who suffer from discrimination, as they're not favored or preferred by the left/political correctness.
Back to the matter of Bill 31, though... I'm pleased that it's not as easy as walking in and stating your name and saying "yep, that's me address" and then getting a ballot. I was shocked when I started voting that I didn't need to prove who I am and that they could care less that I could actually be an impostor who intercepted my voting-information card in the mail.
Now, it appears that Parliament will have to get a little more specific and address the issue of whether people can wear a veil, burka, ski mask, goalie mask, Mickey Mouse mask, a scuba mask, a gas mask, an Osama bin Laden mask, a Mohammed mask, clown makeup, Gene Simmons' KISS makeup, a nylon stocking, etc... over their faces when presenting themselves to the polling station officials...
Let's not go there. Let's not open that can of worms. Let's not open Pandora's Box. Let's not start on YET ANOTHER slippery slope in Canada.
I believe that everyone must show their face to be allowed to vote, in addition to otherwise proving who they are. And that new legislation must say so. It will be constitutional, consistent with the Charter.
Only when it's impossible to show one's face will it be allowed to not do so. Like for medical reasons, but then a doctor's note must be provided.
I believe we can declare it a Canadian value to not hide one's face when voting. Besides, it's still a secret ballot, and no one will know which way we voted, only that we did vote, which is a good thing, we can all agree!
Hiding one's face just doesn't strike me as proper social conduct in a situation as critically important as voting.