Friday, September 09, 2005

Faith-based Arbitration in Ontario

Premier McGuinty is dithering over whether to implement sharia law in family arbitration. Because of the brouhaha over this issue, we Ontarians have discovered that faith-based arbitration has in fact been in effect since 1991 for Catholics, Jews, and Ismaeli Muslims. Marion Boyd, and every female Liberal MPP, has shown breathtaking naivete by saying they can put safeguards in place to protect Muslim women from misogynistic legal decisions and that Canadian law trumps religious law where the two differ. Really? And how will they enforce that? Janet Ecker on Studio 2 last night is the first female politician to come out and call it as it is.

The Leftists want to eat their cake and have it too. They want to pander to multiculturalism, and they subscribe to the view that if it's not evangelistic Christian, it must be OK. And if it's Muslim, we can't be seen to discriminate against it or show intolerance. Give me a break. To make matters worse, they seem to be also saying that non-ethnic Canadian women have their hard-won rights under the Charter, but if you're an ethnic or orthodox woman, then it's OK for you to be discriminated against. It's racism couched in PC terms of tolerance for other cultures.

Canadian culture is a great culture. It's valid for us to say we will uphold our own values, and those values trump those from other countries. It is necessary for us to be vigilant in protecting women who come from misogynistic (to put it nicely, woman-hating is more accurate) societies, especially since their husbands may've been the driving force to get here, and so they won't know about their rights in Canada.

My father often treats women from orthodox faiths (Catholic, Jewish included) who because of their faiths' dictums on dress are covered from head to toe in long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. Some wear wigs. To us they look no different, but to him, their bones tell a different story. Their bones are soft. Does anyone really think that dictums on female modesty come from God when those dictums harm the very physiology of the women? Why would God create a creature He was ashamed of, and why would He immediately prescribe codes that would harm their health? These laws are not from God, and they do not belong in our judicial system. And make no mistake, just because these disputes do not take place in a court, their resolutions are still part of our judicial system.

The Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991 must be amended to ban all faith-based arbitration. Policing the decisions is a waste of our scarce judicial dollars and won't happen. Worse, this Act is an assault on the rights of women who belong to orthodox religions and/or are non-English speaking immigrants.

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