Laws limiting fundamental freedoms receive all-party support


National Post, 25 October 2017

The totalitarian ethos is alive and well when opposition parties are reluctant to oppose, lest they be branded insufficiently ideologically pure

All fundamentalisms have a totalitarian impulse, and secular fundamentalism is not immune. Canada has its share of secular fundamentalists infected with that impulse.

Much attention has been given to the face-covering law passed last week in Quebec. This week, Ontario will pass a law limiting protests against abortion that merits similar attention. In both cases, disproportionate measures are employed to limit freedoms, not to address a pressing public policy issue but as a form of official denunciation, backed by the fierce power of state coercion. One of the signs that totalitarian winds are blowing is when political dissent disappears, with the opposition parties in full cahoots with the government. 

The niqab ban law in Quebec, Bill 62, borrows from European countries, where social stresses associated with mass Muslim immigration have included regular violence and even terror attacks. Even in such circumstances it is hard to justify such an intrusion on personal liberty, all the more so religious liberty. But such circumstances do not prevail in Quebec, and what is proposed by the government is much more a matter of expressing disapproval of a minority religious choice, indeed a minority choice within the Muslim community itself. It is not the government’s place to express such disapproval.

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