Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Veils A Red Herring

Lord Kitchner's Own asks; Where's the by-election Veil story???

The Montreal Gazzette put this in the end of an article on the by-election. Though I had seen another CP item on it last night.

A handful of voters in Saint-Hyacinthe and at least one in Roberval voted with veils or scarves covering their faces to protest against a decision by Elections Canada to allow the practice, provided the voters furnished two pieces of identification or were vouched for by a registered voter from the constituency.

The Star likewise;

Controversy in the lead-up to the vote over a decision by Elections Canada to allow veiled women to vote without showing their faces, which all political parties argued was an unreasonable measure to accommodate Muslim women, met with muted protest. Local news reports said half a dozen Quebecers, including one man, showed up to vote with their faces covered.

In a interview with the McQill Daily published the day before the by-election Jack Layton said;

There has been no request from veiled women to stay veiled when they vote, let’s be extremely clear about that. I’ve been reminded by my Muslim friends of this: they de-veil.... They de-veil for their driver’s license, their health card, for purposes related to civil society – which is of course what voting is all about. Given that there was absolutely no request for permission to do this, we feel that the Chief Electoral Officer did not make the best decision.

And he was right as one of the early stories on this issue revealed, but was way way down at the bottom of the CP story.

Wahida Valiante, national vice-president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said she was surprised by the debate because it hasn't come up among Muslims in her Waterloo, Ont.-based organization.

"It just came from nowhere," she said.

"I'm really confused as to who was consulted, what happened."

She said she didn't believe the Muslim community was involved.

Actually no one requested the clarification it was provided by Elections Canada as part of other clarifications arising from the new voting act past by parliament.

July 26, 2007
New Canada Elections Act Provisions Now in Effect

July 30, 2007
Electors MUST Prove Their Identity and Residential Address When They Vote!

August 30, 2007
Reminder Card and Details of New Voter Identification Rules Will Be Delivered to All Electors

September 5, 2007
Electors MUST Prove Their Identity and Residential Address When They Vote!

September 6, 2007
Elections Canada Reiterates the Statutory Requirements Regarding the Identification of Electors Wearing Face Coverings


Changes have been made to the Canada Elections Act.

All electors MUST prove their identity and residential address when they vote. For more detailed information on voter identification, visit www.elections.ca.

There was no veil controversy it was all a bit o' political slight of hand. Harper using a bit of Mulroney blarney politics.

On Monday, speaking in Canberra, Australia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper blasted the agency for the second day. He said Elections Canada has defied Bill C-31, which was passed by Parliament in June, by allowing Muslim women to wear veils and burkas while voting.

He said it's not the first time the agency has gone against the will of the elected Parliament.

"I'm obviously very disappointed with this decision. Parliament has just passed a law and its intention is very clear -- the intention is to have photographic identification of voters. I'm disappointed with Elections Canada and I don't think it's the only case where Elections Canada is giving a ruling on the laws they wish they had, rather than the laws that are actually on the books."

The Harper Index tells us why this was a big red herring used to veil the real issue the Conservatives have with Elections Canada.

The battle for rural Quebec may have been manifested in the veil controversy as well. "Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, facing elections as early as this year, is taking a stand against veiled Muslim voters, helping him tap into a growing backlash against immigrants," write Bloomberg News reporters Theophilos Argitis and Alexandre Deslongchamps.

"The feeling on this issue was so powerful no party was willing to oppose the Conservatives on this," said one Parliament Hill staffer, who asked not to be named. The Bloc was quickest to join the Conservatives in opposing veils at the polling booth, but soon the NDP and Liberals agreed as well. "No one was going to hand this issue to them."

At the same time, veils may have given Harper an opportune means of distraction. Daniel Tencer wrote in the online edition of Maissoneuve that the controversy successfully took attention from investigation into Conservative election spending, as well as exacting vengeance upon chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand for raising the issue.

Tencer writes: "It has everything to do with Elections Canada's assertion that the Conservatives went $1.2 million over the legal spending limit in the last election. The Globe describes today how defensive behaviour by some Conservative MPs after the January, 2006, election tipped them off to the practice of 'in-and-out' transactions, in which the federal Conservative organization sent money to local candidates and then siphoned it right back to the federal campaign, thus avoiding federal spending limits. Several weeks ago it emerged that Harper's Conservatives are now involved in a lawsuit against Mayrand, the same person Harper attacked over veiled voting, regarding Mayrand's decision not to recognize the 'in-and-out' spending as legitimate. At a House of Commons committee hearing yesterday into the practice, the Ottawa Citizen reports, Conservative MPs deflected allegations of corruption by challenging the opposition parties to open their campaign spending books for the past decade."


Black Bloc Can Vote

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