Five years since the Ontario Sharia Debate

The Toronto Star – September 11, 2010
Harvey Simmons, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Political Science at York University, has written this short piece reflecting on the Sharia debate which transpired five years ago in the province of Ontario. He claims that it is still not clear why Premier McGuinty dumped religious arbitration. Some felt the premier foresaw his whole legislative agenda being derailed by endless fighting over religious arbitration. Others felt he agreed with the anti-tribunal forces over the putative threat to women’s rights.
Once taken, the decision was greeted by anti-tribunal groups as an example of how multicultural societies draw lines around the illiberal activities and beliefs of minority communities and say, “this far and no farther.” The pro-tribunal groups, however, saw it as proof of Islamophobia and as a violation of religious freedom. He concludes that five years on, there is simply no way to pass judgment on the premier’s fateful decision.