In Ontario, a Sikh man is fighting in court for the right to wear a turban, but not a helmet, when he rides his motorcycle.In Montreal last week, Judge Gilles Ouellet found a Sikh boy guilty of having threatened two other boys with a hair pin, used to keep his hair neat under his turban.“It astonishes and saddens me as a Canadian,” said Angus Reid chief research officer Andrew Grenville, who has been probing Canadians’ views on religion for 16 years.“I don’t think the findings reflect well on Canada at all.” Those findings leave little doubt that Canadians with a Christian background travel through life benefiting from a broad tendency of their fellow citizens to view their religion more favourably than any other.Bernie Farber, chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was shocked that so many Canadians responding to a poll were willing to be so open about their negative feelings toward minority religions.“It tells me,” Farber said, “that our journey from intolerance to tolerance, to where we can actually celebrate each other’s cultures, is elusive.” From the perspective of Sikhs and, especially, Muslims, that’s putting it mildly.Sikh doctrine is mostly likely to be viewed as violent in the province where about half of Canadian Sikhs live: 30 per cent of British Columbians said they think Sikhism encourages violence.Palbinder Shergill, a Vancouver lawyer who has long represented the World Sikh Organization of Canada on legal matters, said she might have expected such negative opinions about Sikhism in the 1990s.
If you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with. Significant difference in age between you and your significant other. But when it comes to the major faiths other than Christianity, a new poll conducted for Maclean’s finds that many Canadians harbour deeply troubling biases. Although by now it might seem an ingrained national creed, fewer than one in three Canadians can find it in their hearts to view Islam or Sikhism in a favourable light. Canadians may embrace it in theory, but only a minority say they would find it acceptable if one of their kids came home engaged to a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. There’s not enough to prevent media images of war and terrorism from convincing almost half of Canadians that mainstream Islam encourages violence.The poll, by Angus Reid Strategies, surveyed 1,002 randomly selected Canadians on religion at a moment when issues of identity are a hot topic in Ottawa.“Too much importance has been given this case,” he said.“This matter should end here.” Shergill suspects that many more Canadians read about the initial charge being laid than the remarks of the obviously frustrated judge.