Edmonton Journal

Laurier’s words ring true even today


Re: “Veil debate has led to hate, fear and violence,” Opinion, Makita Valerio, Oct. 8 and “Woman behind niqab debate set to take citizenshi­p oath,” Oct. 10

The words our seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, spoke in 1907 are just as true today:

“First of all we must insist that the immigrant who comes here is willing to become a Canadian and is willing to assimilate our ways, he should be treated on equal grounds and it would be shameful to discrimina­te against such a person for reasons of their beliefs or the place of birth or origin. But it is the responsibi­lity of that person to become a Canadian in all aspects of life, nothing else but a Canadian. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says that he is a Canadian, but tries to impose his customs and habits upon us, is not a Canadian. We have room for only one flag, the Canadian flag. There is room for only two languages here, English and French. And we have room for loyalty, but only one, loyalty to the Canadian people. We won’t accept anyone, I’m saying anyone, who will try to impose his religion or his customs on us.”

I have no problems with anything Valerio wrote until the paragraph that states: “I have repeatedly posed the questions to my family and friends: Can you imagine the uncertain reality that I and many Muslims now face in public?”

One gets the sense she feels she and others are being deniqabbed for life. At issue is an unveiling for the citizenshi­p ceremony, one short event. After being sworn in, a woman can then wear the niqab for the rest of her life, and never take it off, if she wants. Robin Leech, Edmonton

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