2007-09-13

The Rule of Law and "Veiled Voting"

Canada is not a police state. The police cannot simply tell people to do something because they are the police. They must have legal authority. And neither can other government officials. It does not matter whether everyone thinks that requiring voters to show their faces is a good thing, whether it be the Prime Minister, all political parties, all Muslim organizations and leaders and veiled Muslim women themselves, or even a Parliamentary committee, if the law does not provide the authority election officials cannot require Muslim women to show their faces to vote.

Perhaps the law should be changed. But if the law is to be changed to require photo identification of voters then it must apply to all voters. So why was it not applied to all voters when the act was amended. Perhaps it was because many voters, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, do not have photo identification and requiring it would effectively disenfranchise many of the poor from voting. Do we want to do that simply because veiled women make some people uncomfortable.

And what of those who vote by mail, who do they show their face and photo identification to. Indeed, mail in ballots are a greater concern because there is no guarantee of a secret ballot, one of the basic principles of democratic elections, when mail in ballots are used.

Perhaps we should stop and think before implementing knee jerk reactions to what is in reality more of a theoretical, rather than real, problem.

1 comment:

Berlynn said...

Ummm, Richard, I hate to burst your bubble but Canada has quite quickly been moving closer and closer to being a police state. In fact, the pictures I've seen from Montebello indicate that Canada is, in fact, a police state. And, the longer Harper remains in power, the closer we get to being a full police state.