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Retired Supreme Court justice wrong to endorse Quebec values charter

September 30th, 2013     by Jennifer Marston     Comments

An infographic explaining what is “acceptable” and “not acceptable” religious symbols for public employees to don according to the Parti Québécois’ proposed Charter of Values.

This past weekend Amna Qureshi, a recent law school graduate, had her open letter to Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube published in the Toronto Star. In the letter, Qureshi teases out many of the problems, contradictions, and discriminations within the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Values. Thanks to our friends over at Outubrst! for putting us in touch with Qureshi.

The following is an open letter from recent law school graduate Amna Qureshi to retired Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube. My name is Amna Qureshi and I am a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa law school. I learned last week that you plan to support the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Values and that you defended similar ideas in a broadcast interview earlier this year. I write to you disappointed and confused because your views appear to contradict opinions you wrote while a Supreme Court Justice — opinions that have inspired me as a student of law, as a hijab-wearing Muslim woman and as an advocate for social justice. I had the honour of meeting you last September during the 10th anniversary of your retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada. As part of my past role at U of O as Diversity Coordinating Co-Chair of the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program, I was humbled to help plan this event. During your reception we talked, posed for photos, laughed and hugged — bonding over our experiences of living in small towns. The following day, in front of hundreds of peers, I was privileged to present you with a gift on behalf of the organizing committee as a token of appreciation for the work you have done for women and in the name of equality. Standing beside you, I felt a great sense of connection and shared passion for the law, equality and justice. I remember this meeting so clearly and often look back on it as a pivotal moment in my life — a symbol of how far I have come. You see, having been born and raised in rural Alberta with parents who had emigrated from Pakistan to give us a better life, I faced tough odds to get to where I am today. I have fought against oppression for much of my life and feel that I thrive in spite of it even today. Given all this, I was confused and shocked to read that you consider the complete face covering for Muslim women a sign of “oppression” and believe that explicit rules, entrenched in legislation, on what is unacceptable in the name of secularism will ensure that immigrants “become like us.”

To read the entire letter please click here.

Tags: body politics, in my opinion..., politics, race and racism, recommended reading

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