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Photo: Flickr CC Licence / Flood G

Photo: Flickr CC Licence / Flood G

I find myself, late in this election campaign, ashamed to be a Canadian. As a longtime supporter of the rights of Quebec going back to days where I was involved in constitutional affairs in this country, I find myself utterly appalled at their creation and fanning of the “niqab” issue.

Let’s make no mistake about it, this is racism pure and simple. When I read Jason Kenney saying, “If anything’s dangerous, it would be legitimizing a medieval tribal custom that treats women as property rather than people,” I want to throw up.

What has happened to this country under Stephen Harper, the instigator of this disgrace? What’s happened to a nation famous for tolerance, understanding, and I suppose most importantly of all, minding one’s own business?

Don’t we see what’s happening to us? Don’t we have the ability to look back at our glorious history with regard to relations between peoples and see that we are being corrupted?

I once hosted a 39-part TV series on religions and can tell you that after examining 38+ atheism I came to the conclusion that every single tenet of faith stretched credulity to the utmost, yet what really stuck out was the willingness of all Canadians to tolerate the beliefs – or lack of them – of their fellow citizens.

Given the history of other parts of the world, many of whose citizens are now Canadians, this for me set Canada apart as a very special place. That Mr. Harper, the prime minister of the country, would raise a woman’s veil as a matter of public safety is so appalling that I, who has made his living with words for 60 years, am speechless. Somehow, I feel unclean.

Fortunately, there is a bit of courage around. Mr. Mulcair in Quebec has shown that rare commodity in standing up for what is right, knowing that every utterance was costing him and his party votes.

Similarly, Mr. Trudeau, in the traditions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the simple raw decency for which Canadians have hitherto been known, has also taken the road of courage not convenience.

I expect that Mr. Harper will win the election on this issue. In doing so, he will destroy our hard-earned reputation as a nation of tolerance, generosity of spirit, and fair play – sully the reputation of a country respected the world over for its ability to live and let live.

This election, too, will pass. When it does and the final words are written, Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau will stand high amongst their fellow citizens while Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe – and John Weston, my MP – will stand out as cheap politicos who would inflame the passions of the public and sacrifice the nation’s self respect in order to satisfy personal ambition.

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