1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 133
Thursday, June 15, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker
Point of Order
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I have a point of order and I do this very reluctantly, but I believe our time has come that when we talk about people in this chamber, we have to respect all of us in the chamber.
There are two Muslim women here today, and we feel that today we were addressed as not being modest and, Your Honour, I would like to do this point of order because I bring to your attention what was said by Senator Enverga:
Let us consider the practices that are important to those who are of that faith. All here are aware of the practice of many Muslim women to wear head covers, often in the form of a hijab. Generally we find that the head covers are worn as a symbol of modesty and privacy so as to not show one’s hair to men. If a person is unwilling, for religious or cultural reasons, to not show a man one’s hair, how are we expected to force such a person to share the most private and intimate of spaces with someone who appears, in all physical and biological ways, to be of the opposite sex?
I ask, honourable senators, is it possible that, in passing this bill, we would be discriminating against our Muslim friends, as well as other groups, and their practice and policy of modesty.
Your Honour, I don’t know how else to say but to say that with everything that is happening around us just now, with all the crime statistics we are hearing, in this chamber, I respectfully ask that you respect the two women that sit with you. To point to a faith — and just the one faith — when we know as a fact many faiths have sent us letters that they do not support this bill. And I’m not asking anybody here to support this bill or not to support this bill, but, honourable senators, I say to you, we are hurting; we are really hurting.
This hurts us. Don’t do this to us, and in the Senate, we have a rule, Your Honour, regarding unparliamentary language. It says under 6-13(1) that “All personal, sharp or taxing speeches are unparliamentary and out of order. “I respectfully say to you, my colleagues, two women sit amongst you. Don’t call us un-modest. We also have the same challenges all of you who are of faith have; don’t make it harder. I believe it is unparliamentary to call us not modest.
I respectfully say to you, my colleagues, two women sit amongst you. Don’t call us un-modest. We also have the same challenges all of you who are of faith have; don’t make it harder. I believe it is unparliamentary to call us not modest.
Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Your Honour, colleagues, I did not intend to hurt anybody or say anything that could be perceived as negative about Islam or our Islamic women here.
What I had intended to convey was my concern for their protection. I had indicated that many Muslim women wear head coverings as a sign of their modesty. I never said or implied that all Muslim women wear a hijab. I feel that all Muslim women, including those who choose to wear a head covering as well as those who do not, should be respected and protected in their right to modesty and privacy. That was my intent.
If I hurt anybody here, I apologize for that. It was never my intent whatsoever.
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank Senator Jaffer for raising this point of order about language in debate, and I very much appreciate Senator Enverga’s apology. I do remind senators of rule 6-13(1), and that not just sharp and taxing comments are unparliamentary and out of order, but also personal comments. When you are preparing your speeches, honourable senators, I ask you to please refer to this rule and to be constantly mindful of the decorum of the Senate and respect for all the individuals who make up this place.