Editorial: "Speculative Danger" Not Grounds for Denial of Religious Freedom

March 9, 2004

Source: The Globe and Mail


On March 9, 2004 The Globe and Mail ran an editorial on the recent Quebec court decision to ban kirpan, the Sikh ceremonial dagger, from public schools, arguing in favor of Sikh students' rights to wear kirpan. The editorial board wrote, "In saying that public safety takes precedence over religious freedom, Quebec's highest court stated the obvious last week. But in barring a 14-year-old Sikh student from wearing his kirpan, a ceremonial dagger, to his public school, the Court of Appeal made a grievous error. It accepted the most speculative of dangers as a reason for undermining religious freedom, a freedom explicitly protected in both the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights. When rights collide in Canada, as they often do, the courts are not free simply to choose the right they prefer. They need to examine the evidence to determine whether the two rights can live together...Canada's particular genius, hard won, still evolving, has been to understand that optimal integration occurs when people are allowed to be what they are."