SHEPHERD: Mount Royal University spends $115,000 on Muslim foot-washing stations
Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary, Alberta recently announced the opening of a new facility on campus: two ablution stations for Muslim students to perform “wudu”, a pre-prayer cleansing ritual.
A handful of Canadian universities already have ablution stations available, and little fanfare was involved in their installation.
However, MRU held an entire event to “celebrate” the new washing stations, and gushed about how Muslim students will no longer have to feel “awkward and uncomfortable” as they get water on the floor while washing their feet in hand sinks.
The cost of installing the ablution stations was $115,000.
MRU’s human rights advisor with the Office of Campus Equity and Meaningful Inclusion, Khaula Bhutta, stated that the university has “a duty to provide these facilities under Alberta’s Human Rights Act.”
A duty? It is unclear how Bhutta came to the conclusion that universities in Alberta are required to use their funding to build nonessential facilities for one particular religious group. Under the section “Discrimination re goods, services, accommodation, facilities”, Alberta’s Human Rights Act reads:
No person shall
(a) deny to any person or class of persons any goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily available to the public, or
(b) discriminate against any person or class of persons with respect to any goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily available to the public,
because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons or of any other person or class of persons.
Seeing as ablution stations are not a facility “customarily available to the public”, the argument that universities are compelled to build ablution stations because of the Human Rights Act should not apply.
However, other universities have made the same case: in 2015, the University of Ottawa Muslim Students Association won “a small victory in a fight to acquire more religious space on campus” after the University of Ottawa agreed to build ablution stations.
The Student Federation president at the time stated that they had been pressuring the university to build these stations for years, and that “we’ll have to recognize that the University of Ottawa is definitely lacking and not respecting the Ontario Human Rights Code when it comes to religious accommodations.”
The Ontario Human Rights Code, in the section “Freedom from Discrimination”, states:
Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.
Again, it is quite a stretch to say that it is actively discriminatory if Ontarian universities do not direct their money towards nonessential facilities for one particular religious group.
Non-Muslim Canadians who see themselves as tolerant individuals may have a mixed reaction upon hearing about these campus ablution stations: they may feel initially perplexed, but figure that building the ablution stations doesn’t really hurt anybody.
However, Khaula Bhutta’s assertion that Albertan universities are required by human rights law to provide students with Islamic facilities undermines Canadian identity.
Pinning down Canadian identity has always proven to be elusive, but we can probably at least agree on what Canadian identity is not: Islamic. And while I don’t want to be presumptuous, I reckon that most Muslim students living in Canada understand that our universities will not offer the same facilities that they would receive in an Islamic country, and figured they would work around that.
MRU President David Docherty enthused that the ablution stations “are more than physical spaces… With these spaces, we are saying — loud and clear — you belong here.” Khaula Bhutta stated the installation of the stations is “an opportunity to showcase to the community, to different groups, that we are trying our best to create spaces where people feel safe, respected and where barriers are removed.”
Docherty and Bhutta are of course raving about the stations, as they can justify their jobs or perhaps a pay raise by acting as if a huge milestone has been reached and barriers have been broken down.
On the contrary, building these ablution stations is a concession. They send the message that people from other cultures do not have to adapt to the Canadian way of life – rather, our institutions will spend student tuition dollars and taxpayer money to ensure that people from other cultures do not have to adapt to Canadian culture.
Don’t get me wrong: I do not fault Muslim students for taking advantage of these ablution stations. The people who are undermining Canadian culture, in this situation, are the university administration bureaucrats that make a living by spending other peoples’ money to virtue signal.
A mayor of a small town in the province of Quebec has apologized after he said that the female councillors made legislative decisions due to them menstruating. Michel Lemay, who is the mayor of Saint-Barnabé, made this statement after three female councillors voted in favour of a snow-clearing contract, only to then speak out against it, according to the CBC.
During a municipal council meeting, which was recorded by a member of the public, the mayor stated his opinions on why they changed their mind: “Some of them maybe weren’t feeling well, or maybe they had their period that night.”
The Mayor later apologized on the talk show Radio-Canada 360, saying that he agreed that his comments were “inappropriate, and I apologize.”
Some of the councillors have reached out to Quebec’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs so to remedy the tension that is now present in the city hall. There are plans to hold a mediation session with councillors in January.
The mayor has been in office since 2005 and is currently on his second term.
Montrealers will officially be able to cover their faces with masks or bandanas during protests again, as the city moves forward with scrapping a bylaw prohibiting it.
The bylaw, which was originally put in place 50 years ago as a measure to force demonstrators at protests throughout the city to rally with their faces revealed, allowing police to better identify participants who may be violating other lies, mayor Valerie Plante announced on Wednesday.
During a speaking event to the city’s executive committees, Mayor Plante said that the city’s police are well-equipped enough with the tools of the Criminal Code and the Highway Code to give ample ability to monitor and control public demonstrations.
The bylaw, which originally passed in 1969 as a means to maintain public safety and order, was amended during the Montreal student tuition hike protests in 2012 to include bans on all facial coverings during demonstrations. The bylaw also places obligation on protest organizers to provide city officials with march routes.
Then-opposition Projet Montreal criticized the 2012 amendments, claiming that they were put into place as a reactionary measure to the protests. In the years since those protests, the move to remove the bylaw has been supported by “a serious of court judgments, overturning the amendments as unconstitutional.”
Plante said a motion calling for the elimination of the bylaw will be tabled at the next meeting of city council on Monday.
Montreal’s history of masked protests
The city isn’t prone to masked protestors causing trouble, though. Recent May Day celebrations, a day chosen by communist and socialist groups as International Workers Day, have proven dangerous.
The 2012 protest in downtown Montreal, led by the anti-capitalist group CLAC Montreal (convergence des luttes anti capitalistes: Translation, ‘convergence of anti-capitalist struggles,’) quickly turned into a violent riot in which 108 people arrested and 33 charged, many of them masked.
In 2017, two masked members of the Black Bloc assaulted two Global News journalists, going so far as to announce a call to violence against journalists covering future protests, in order to “make demonstrations safer.”
The group released a post on Montreal Counter-Information titled “No face, no case: in defence of smashing corporate media cameras.”
The post read: “Sometimes, it is necessary to go against what the mainstream considers ‘acceptable,’ to break the law in order to do the ethical thing,” the post read. “Those who mask up to fight the racist far-right have decided, at great personal risk, that they will use any means necessary to shut down fascist organizing.”
A 2019 Anti-capitalist rally in downtown Montreal saw a group of 300 protesters throw smoke bombs and firecrackers, all while smashing windows of businesses on route.
Police arrested five people for what they described as “multiple criminal acts” and handed out multiple tickets for vandalism and mischief, such as breaking windows. Many of these protestors were masked.
Yves-François Blanchet has said that he will not do anything to alleviate western Canada’s frustration. Speaking to reporters, Bloc head Blanchet said that he would not lift a finger to “create an oil state in western Canada.”
These remarks came after Blanchet’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa today. Trudeau has been meeting with the leaders of the federal parties to prepare for parliament reopening on Dec. 5. After this meeting, Blanchet stated that he will support Trudeau’s minority government in emission-reducing initiatives, however, he will fight the Liberals on the TMX pipeline.
The Bloc’s intent to halt the pipeline will not cause Trudeau trouble in controlling the majority of the House.
Blanchet also indicated to reporters that he did not expect the throne speech to get in the way of Quebec’s secularism bill. Bill 21, the deeply controversial bill that stops public employees from wearing religious symbols, has created tension between English and French Canada.
Over the previous week, Trudeau has been meeting with provincial leaders, as well as Andrew Scheer, in an attempt to placate the increasing sentiment of alienation in western Canada. Blanchet’s most recent comment will only likely further this rift.
Quebec Premier François Legault has called Don Cherry “a clown” after he was fired for his poppy comments. Speaking to a Quebec City radio station, Legault told listeners that he was “very happy” that Cherry had been booted.
The premier went on to say that “He’s a bit of a clown … I’ve often seen him whining against francophones. Now he’s doing it against immigrants.”
It is unsurprising that Legault is celebrating Cherry’s ousting. The Hockey icon often takes every opportunity to insult the Quebecois. In the past, Cherry has made televised comments about the Quebecois, accusing them of being effeminate for wearing visors, and ruining the Canadian game.
On Twitter, French Canadians also expressed their support of Sportsnet’s decision to fire Cherry. The general sentiment was that this decision was a long time coming. Some users expressed irritation that Cherry was fired for an alleged derogatory comment about immigrants, and not the comments he made about Quebecois for years.