Half-baked SCC Niqab decision

Lorrie Goldstein calls the Supreme Court decision throwing it back to trial judges to make the call whether or not a female Muslim witness has to show her face in court ‘half a loaf’:

Thursday’s split Supreme Court decision on the niqab provides half a loaf to both sides in this never-ending debate.

The judges said the wearing of a niqab by a witness must not be allowed to interfere with the accused’s right to a fair trial, but they did not go so far as to declare an outright ban.

Rather, trial judges will now have to figure out at what point a witness wearing a niqab interferes with the accused’s right to a fair trial.

It’s odd we keep going around in circles on this issue, given that in the West, we generally consider niqabs and burkas to be symbols of the oppression of women.

Indeed. And as Lorrie notes, it’s going to be interesting to see how those judges gauge a woman’s sincerity of religious belief.

I suspect even King Solomon himself would have trouble with that one.


*   *   *   *


Supreme Court splits in messy decision on face veilsEmmett Macfarlane:

As a result, the majority’s “balancing rules” are akin to parking a tank on one side of a seesaw. Testimony in criminal trials is inherently contestable; that’s the very idea behind the principle of cross-examination at the core of the defendant’s rights in this case…

MUST-READ column by David Frum: The Supreme Court’s niqab ruling is a supremely ambiguous decision.

This entry was posted in democracy, Goldstein, Justice, Political correctness, Supreme Court. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Half-baked SCC Niqab decision

  1. E. Mac says:

    When it really comes down to the tough decisions, even the SCOC procrastinates on the thin edge of the razor’s edge.
    Why is it they almost never arrive at a lucid resolution? This is much like the abortion issue which is never resolved one way or the other.
    Canada is at a snails pace going down the slippery slope, and Canadian’s would have more respect with an abridged verdict rather then waffling and sitting on the railing.
    I am grievously dispirited by their abysmal decision.
    Go figure!

    • Liz J says:

      The SCOC interpreting the Charter on issues presented them is a nice little cop out for governments to run with their decisions when they might not be politically beneficial for the sitting government to do what’s most expedient.

      When dealing with an issue like full face coverings anywhere in this democracy seems to me there’s only one option, ban them.
      It’s simply not how we do business in this democracy. I could never deal with anyone whose face I cannot see. Are my rights being trampled?

  2. Gabby in QC says:

    This decision, as well as other judicial decisions I disagree with, simply confirms that no court is infallible; therefore those decisions can be challenged, if not immediately, then at some future date.

    I suppose this now means that a niqab-wearing person (person, because it could be one of either gender) can vote without showing his/her face?

    And how does a judge determine a person’s “sincerity of religious belief”? Is there some kind of “religious sincerity” meter?

    It’s getting “curioser & curioser”.

    • Joanne says:

      And how does a judge determine a person’s “sincerity of religious belief”? Is there some kind of “religious sincerity” meter?

      Exactly. That’s my biggest beef with this thing. Since when did the court have the capacity or need to assess a person’s depth of faith? It’s ludicrous in what is widely heralded to be a secular society.

      BTW Gabby, excellent response to the Jeffrey Simpson article in the Globe. Heh. 😉

  3. Liz J says:

    Shall we lay blame for this sort of goings on in OUR country on the Trudeau Charter?

    What sort of Court system in a democratic country allows a victim or the accused to cover their faces?
    This is beyond religion, it’s insanity and it’s even a threat to our security.

  4. billg says:

    Wait till the “accused” is found guilty and appeals based on not being able to face his or her “accuser”. So to sum it up, in Canada right now you can be hauled before a tribunal and found guilty of racism or sexism, be forced to pay a fine and never see the inside of a court room, and, you can vote, drive and testify in court with your face covered…all thanks to a misguided Liberal vision of a softer, kinder Canada. And for some reason, they cant seem to figure out why as a party they keep bleeding votes and support.

  5. Bubba Brown says:

    Here we go again, so called Christan symbols
    out , trees, carols even Merry Christmas, the crucifix ,might offend you know.
    The insipid “Happy Holidays”
    So if I want to wear a goalie mask, go Canucks!, I can still testify?
    How ’bout the Church of the “unknown comic”
    This is Canada we do not hide our faces from each other.
    This means their beliefs no matter how weird trump ours.
    This is not half a loaf, more like a half a***d decision.
    If people are not willing to come here and fit in perhaps they would be more comfortable staying in whatever paradise they came from.
    Oh things aren’t so good where you come from?
    Let’s be honest, these are not immigrants as we understand the term.
    They are “settlers” trying to bring “there” to “here”with the help of misguided “all cultures are equal” Liberal judges.
    The Trudeau Legacy.

  6. Martin says:

    I was under the impression that the right to face one’s accusers in court, went back about 800 years, and by facing them meant actually seeing their face.
    This is worse than a half-baked decision. Say a bank robber can claim to appear in court with a ski mask on because he feels more comfortable? Liberals would say this is absurd, but the more important principle of being equal before the eyes of the law, seem missing in this case.

  7. Brian says:

    I doubt that anyone will ever be found guilty when the accuser is sitting there with hte face covered.

    It would seem reasonable that the defence would simply state that the woman is an imposter and move to have the case dismissed unless she exposes her face.

    The court were morons not to see where this is headed. If you want Sharia then go back whence you came.

  8. Liz J says:

    Wondering if this alleged crime was committed in Canada or did it happen in another country?

    • Bec says:

      The huge irony is that if this woman was raped in a Middle east country, she’d have likely been stoned.

      Why do they request the comfort of our judicial system (as she deserves if she was raped) but resort to the garment behaviour of her escaped persecution?
      It just doesn’t jive.

      I suspect that she will be disrobing from her cage for this trial. My understanding is that she has done so for a Drivers lic and another incident. That’s all the Defence needs, imo to insist upon it.

  9. melwilde says:

    This what you get when you give away the rights of Parliament to an unelected body
    (the CSC). It’s called a constitution and that is the weakness in our system of governance. Get used to it because there is a lot more to come.
    Judges will never represent the citizens of Canada and they have no intention of trying
    to relate to the court of public opinion or Parliament.

    • Liz J says:

      Exactly right.

      Problem is compounded with the Charter, their interpretation of it in each case presented to them.

  10. Alain says:

    It seems it is too much to ask for judges to do a wee bit of research on the subject before arriving at this, for if they had they would have found that hiding the woman’s face is not a religious requirement in Islam. It is an Arab cultural practice which has also been adopted by the Islamists. Having lived in a Muslim majority country and having travelled to several others, I can attest to this fact.

    So now in a country where women are supposed to have equal rights with men we have judges accepting a cultural practice of seeing women as male property who must be submissive to the male in charge. Shame on these incompetent judges.

  11. Bubba Brown says:

    Martin @ 11:41 AM the right to face an accuser goes way back;
    The Confrontation Clause has its roots in both English common law, protecting the right of cross-examination, and Roman law, which guaranteed persons accused of a crime the right to look their accusers in the eye. In noting the right’s long history, the United States Supreme Court has cited Acts of the Apostles 25:16, which reports the Roman governor Porcius Festus, discussing the proper treatment of his prisoner Paul: “It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man up to die before the accused has met his accusers face-to-face, and has been given a chance to defend himself against the charges.” It has also cited Shakespeare’s Richard II, Blackstone’s treatise, and statutes.[2]
    But , hey Liberals love to re-write laws, human history, custom, traditions thousands of years old mean nothing to them.
    They changed the definition of marriage did they not?
    Marriage goes back thousands of years, literally to Genesis.
    The way God chose to create the first bride is most significant. Unlike the rest of creation and of man himself, God formed Eve not from “the dust of the ground” (Gen 2:7) but from the very man who was to become her husband, by utilizing one of his ribs (Gen 2:21). The significance of the manner of Eve’s creation, though not explicitly expressed, can hardly be missed. Eve was not made out of Adam’s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be his equal, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.
    History, ignore it at your peril.

  12. jon says:

    The wearing of the niqab is a cultural practice not a religious one, so we can dispense with that one here and now. Also, who was the single justice of the 9 that ruled that no discretion is needed at all, that the niqab can be worn at any time? He/she should be removed from the bench.

  13. dmorris says:

    We can blame the Great Charter, but it’s the interpretation of that Charter, by Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, that is mostly to blame. McLachlin was a Mulroney appointee,and has backed some of the worst decisions ever to come out of the SCC. One glaring example of her sophistry is the decision she championed that gave Charter rights to any person who set foot on Canadian soil.

    McLachlin majored in philosophy before she became a lawyer,and you have to wonder if she isn’t more in love with the philosophical world than the real world we have to live in, and live with her decisions.

  14. jon says:

    OT, Terry Mildew is today’s host on P&P… don’t think I’ve ever seen him as a fill-in before. Have to finish up Christmas shopping so I can only watch about 10 minutes of it or so. If anyone is able to watch it in its entirety, let me know just how horribly one-sided he is as a “moderator” and how he compares to Solomon.

    • Gabby in QC says:

      I didn’t watch the entire show, not being able to stomach Kady O’Malley’s gaping mouth, among other facial tics. I seldom miss the Power Panel if I can help it but O’Malley is getting harder & harder to take. I often switch channels when she’s a participant … which is contrary to my tenet of wanting to hear what “the other side” is saying. I try not to limit myself only to voices who echo my POV but in her case I usually make an exception.

      What I did see … Terry Milewski didn’t depart much from the usual: interrupting the Conservative and allowing the others to drone on. However, I was literally applauding the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs (Greg Rickford) when at one point he told Milewski maybe if the latter stopped interrupting, he might be able to answer the questions asked of him. Then at another point, Rickford said something akin to “C’mon, Terry, let’s have a fair debate” when Milewski started rattling off some Idle No More talking points.

      An audit of the Attawapiskat books is apparently due to come out, hinted at by Solomon yesterday. I wonder what the audit will reveal.

      There was a saving grace … for Solomon, that is. Solomon has better posture than Milewski, who sits with shoulders hunched, leaning forward. I know, I know, I shouldn’t get so catty.

      • Fay says:

        I caught a bit of Terry Milewsky today. I noticed he asked the panel members if a hunger strike was a form of blackmail on Chief Theresa Spence’s part. He seemed to have a hard time keeping up the charade of portraying the natives as victims.
        After that they brought back Evan Solomon.

      • Joanne says:

        Heh. Good for Rickford for standing up for himself about the interruptions.

  15. Jen says:

    While all this is happening, Justin Trudeau woos the HAMAS for more votes disregarding who and what they stand for. Tarek Fatah is not pleased AT ALL because imo this is the beginning of the end for us if Trudeau woos them.

  16. Martin says:


    An interesting take on the ruling here. Kay simply calls for the federal government to pass legislation prohibiting face covering for all testimony in court, with no religious exemptions. Pass it and decide who decides complicated legal issues, our elected parliament, or the chosen unelected and largely unelectable SCC justices.

    • Joanne says:

      Great column by Kay. Yes I think we are at that point of needing to know exactly who is in charge here in Canada.

  17. Tripper523 says:

    As always, I’ve enjoyed the vivid and poignant imagery supplied by Bubba Brown, not only for his excellent insight on woman’s debut, but he also inspires me to subscribe to the evolutionist’s way of thinking, as past Liberal governments have caused our Canadian society to evolve into something quite foreign, with the Trudeau Senior legacy most influential to this process. Perhaps it’s more of a “devolution”, as we seemed to be winding down, rather than climbing up the ladder of excellence during those years of Liebral-tailored restructures. We need several more successions of Conservative government to rectify this denigrating trend. PM Harper, as cool and as great as he’s proven, can’t hang in there forever. We need some sort of Harper clone waiting in the wings; a masterful dynamo to counteract the outcast of characters we see in front of us, like Trudeau Junior, or the grizzled Nullcare. Let us remain positive for the New Year, and may it be that peace and goodwill toward men (and women) shall prevail.

    • Richco says:

      “The World According to Bubba Brown”
      Has a nice ring to it.
      Just in case a book is in your future Bubba?

  18. Stan says:

    The best comment I’ve heard on this is that if she wants to follow her religion on face covering then she should also follow her religion when it says her testimony is only worth one quarter of a man’s.

    • Joanne says:

      Oh boy. That is exactly right.

    • Joanne says:

      Actually I just checked into that. A woman is worth half of a man.

      If the Canadian court system wants to go the full Sharia, this is going to get very complicated. And as others have noted, it isn’t even a religious law to have the face covered in the first place so the whole thing is bogus.

      • Liz J says:

        Is sharia a “faith” or a law to repress/control women?
        Apparently our court system has decided it’s a faith and rules accordingly. It boggles the mind how anyone living in this world of the 21st century can accept or condone such pagan practices. It has no place in our society and should be condemned outright.
        For our courts to recognize sharia is making a mockery of all we stand for, including equality before and under the law.

  19. Bubba Brown says:

    Good comments! The supremos are just Liberals in red robes with a very narrow and in this case a bad, bad case of philosophical diarrhea.
    They have deliberately confused religious beliefs with a obscure Arab misogynistic cultural practice.
    I don’t think the practice of the niqab has any place in an enlightened democratic society.
    It demonstrates the absolute ownership of the woman that wears it.
    If this is acceptable so is as Stan so rightly points out her testimony is only worth 1/4 of a mans.
    Going down that path her husband would have the right to beat her providing the rod providing it is no longer than his arm and no thicker than his thumb.
    There are many reasons that Middle Eastern countries are backwards hell holes with little opportunity.
    Chief among them is the deliberate exclusion of half the population from any chance of school.
    But they are coming here and insisting on bringing their quaint cultural taboos with them.
    Reminds this old guy of a story told of India at the time of the Raj.
    A very rich old gentleman had passed away, his wealth and land holdings were considerable.
    Following Indian custom his remains were respectfully laid on a funeral pyre consisting of logs so he could be cremated and his ashes afterward scattered on Mother Ganges.
    His young widow was expected, in her grief, to join him on his pyre, of course this conveniently prevented his estate from passing to her family.
    If she was reluctant his relatives would rather enthusiastically help her out by tossing her on the fire.
    This quaint custom was called “Suttee”
    All the people of his village and the surrounding area had gathered to watch this spectacle.
    A young British Sargent came marching up with 6 soldiers and enquired of the village headman what “was this ‘ere” the headman replied it was an old custom called “suttee”.
    The Sargent looked him in the eye and informed him that the English too had an ancient and honorable custom called “hanging” and he would demonstrate it for all and sundry if there was any “Suttee”.
    The funeral proceeded without the ritual murder of the young woman by the rich mans relatives.
    God Save the Queen.
    Thanks Tripper I don’t get out as much as I used to, so I get my stimulation and much gratification here by participating and hearing what others are thinking.
    I agree we have a treasure in PM Harper he confounds the oppos with his cool demeanor and his incrementalism.
    We have come a long way and are just getting started really.
    I am going to do my small part by writing the truth as I know it as respectfuly as I can.
    I will stand again next year for our local Conservative EDA.
    We all need to be engaged and informed, knowledge is power.

    • Joanne says:

      The supremos are just Liberals in red robes with a very narrow and in this case a bad, bad case of philosophical diarrhea.

      Love it!!

  20. Bubba Brown says:

    Slightly OT but certainly half-baked the “raw” half is workin’ fine however.
    Christy Clark who has kept the legislature closed since last November thinks it’s a compliment to be called a MILF.
    This is the same lady that got all huffy when billionaire Branson offered her a ride on a jet ski or some such if she would strip down to her “eve” suit. Ewwwww
    Liberals, keepin’ it classy.
    I was shocked, shocked! I was goin’ with “Marginally Intelligent Life Form”
    First the cleavage, and now this!
    As far as a book goes no shortage of characters Richco it would be set in a little town in rural Canada, sorta like “Mayberry” but with alcohol.
    In keepin’ with my some call my “cynical” outlook, well, they just don’t have my laser like focus.
    Anyway it will be the greatest work of fiction since Paul Martin wrote the Liberal masterpiece…..the “Red Book”.
    Or since Pierre “begat” whatsisname.

    • Bec says:

      Bubba Brown, YOU SIR, make my day.

      The astonishing gift of the intellect, with humour, candour and wisdom is a joyful moment for me and frankly, always has been since I saw your first post.

      If there wasn’t a novel (or many) in your history, there should have been. Merry Christmas and thank you for your recipes (yummy) and confirmation that we are alright in this great country.

      It’s just so refreshing.

  21. Tripper523 says:

    I’ve been a BB fan since my debut on BLY, and I zealously await that “World According to Bubba” book release! I’m totally with bec and so many others on that. Bubba’s commentary should be required reading for all Libs especially and their brat begats. Keep that laser-like focus and shining the common-sense light for ALL to see. We’re loving it and looking for more in 2013. (We have more the “Otis” types in my village version of Mayberry.)

  22. Bubba Brown says:

    You guy’s! This old boilermaker is blushing.
    Anyway Christmas eve is tomorrow we will be spatchcocking a turkey and roasting it over a bed of veggies and stuffing.
    My dearly beloved made a cranberry chutney that is just a trip to flavor town.
    We will be taking dinner to my dear old mother in law she is not at all well, sad, but she is able to sit up and share the meal with us.
    That makes my Christmas, so do you all.
    God bless us every one!
    On the good news front the Christan faith is in ascendancy, this I ran across and think is worth sharing.
    What a wonderful gift that Jesus Christ gives us all, hope and faith in a small child in a very humble stable so long ago.
    Mr Soloman’s point that only Christan nations are prosperous on account of rule of law, equal opportunity etc is borne out by nearly all Muslim nations being very much the third world.
    That is why they are here, demanding accomadation, I think not.
    Fit in or frig off .
    Except for the oil rich Emirates of course, but when the oil runs out…..

    In other news Justin slams those that criticize his “appearance” at a Islamic revival.
    Justin, who is famous in Liberal circles for well being Justin, thought that his blue suit and red tie were just fine with brown shoes.
    Silly critics.
    Well maybe the “do” could have been toned down just a little.
    He even invokes Laurier perhaps he could actually read something Laurier wrote about being Canadian.
    No divided loyalty or allegiance, one flag, one people.

  23. Liz J says:

    It may be my imagination but Justin seems to be looking more and more like his sire, at least from certain angles.

    As for attending an Islamic conference, it gives him publicity, a chance to grab the spotlight as he paves the way to his ascension. Besides, it’s the Liberal way, they march with and are all things to all people, even those who may not have our best interests at heart.

    His attempts to emulate his father, singing the praises of the Charter, etc, not sure if we’re dealing with a parody or a paradox. Time will tell, for now he’s the heir apparent to the LPC throne.

  24. wilson says:

    Poll (taken Oct/12) says majority of Canadians support protest movements like Occupy, IdleNoMore and referendum on harmonized tax (remember when Reform was demonized for referendum policy…) Dec 22, Edm Journal

    What the article misses is the history making and history changing citizen protest ….
    against the Coalition of Losers.
    Due exclusively to citizen push back the LPC walked away from Layton and Duceppe, fired Dion and installed Ignatieff.

    History will show those 10 days in Canadian history dramitically changed the political face of Canada.
    BQ and LPC tossed aside, rise of the NDP and Prime Minister Harper given a majority govt without Quebec.

    Makes me wonder why Lizzy May thinks multiple coalition of losers in individual ridings would be successful when Canadians have already spoken to that.

  25. fh says:

    Jo I am in filter

    • Joanne says:

      I seem to be missing some comments. Right now there’s nothing in the filter. This happened yesterday too.

      Try again Fh and maybe use some different kind of wording.

  26. fh says:

    Thanks Jo they are both appearing now.

Comments are closed.