Secret ‘Muslim ban’ implicating Tax Court judge a national scandal

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The recent revelation that a Canadian court has secretly excluded “anyone who may be considered Muslim or of an Islamic faith” from appearing before a judge of that court is unprecedented.

This ban on Muslims made in Canada is completely anti-Canadian.

The ban apparently came after complaints were filed with the Canadian Judicial Council because the judge in question was allegedly involved in an attempt to block the hiring of an academic for his writings on Palestine. The decision of the Canadian Judicial Council not to do much about this involvement is currently under judicial review.

No Canadian court has ever considered court cases to prevent members of a particular religion, race, gender, gender or sexual orientation from appearing before a particular judge. The reason is obvious: it is discrimination in textbooks. Imagine a law that prevents Catholics from applying for passports in certain government offices. Or a hospital denying treatment to black Canadians by some doctors.

In any other context, we would call this what it is: a fundamental and obvious violation of the principle of equality, of the Fundamental Charter. human rights principles and codes.

The Tax Court of Canada implemented its ban on Muslims in secret. He never told anyone that he had started screening people he considered Muslims. We only know that this was done because of a leaked letter in a lawsuit brought against the Canadian Judicial Council for its handling of numerous complaints against a particular judge. The first time the court publicly acknowledged its ban was when it was contacted by the media last week. If the lawsuit hadn’t been brought and the question hadn’t been asked, no one would have known.

The application of the Muslim ban was also discriminatory. According to the letter, the Associate Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada would review the court files “to ensure that, to the best of the Associate Chief Justice’s assessment, in accordance with the information in the file.” , any case involving anyone other than the deemed Muslim deputy head of justice would be treated differently. For a senior judge to religiously profile members of the public and lawyers on the basis of their names or the issues raised in their cases is the exact opposite of equal justice for all.

The Muslim ban involved, or was known to, at least eight judges from across Canada: the Chief Justice of the Tax Court, who implemented it; the Associate Chief Justice of the Tax Court, who executed him; the judge of the Tax Court before whom the Muslims were barred from appearing; and the five judges who participated in the review of complaints by the Canadian Judicial Council.

The five judges are the Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of the Saskatchewan, the Chief Justice of Quebec and a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec. None of these judicial officials saw a problem with the ban, nor any need to disclose it publicly. A real national scandal.

The ban also demonstrates a worrying fixation on Muslims. As the Canadian Judicial Council has publicly explained, there have been numerous complaints regarding “the judge’s alleged interference in the appointment of a director of the international human rights program of the Faculty of Law of the University of Toronto ”, regarding that“ the integrity and impartiality of the Tax Court of Canada ”was in jeopardy, and concerns that“ any party or attorney before the Court who is Palestinian, Arab or Muslim ”might fear a bias.

Why, then, did the Tax Tribunal focus on Muslims instead of “Arabs”, “Palestinians” or, for that matter, specialists in international human rights law?

It would be quite right for Canadian Muslims to ask themselves whether our federal institutions are immune to the same discriminatory sentiment that motivated Bill C-21 in Quebec.

Canadians of all religious and ethnic backgrounds should ask themselves what can be done to ensure that Canada’s courts reflect the people they serve – and to ensure that no court ever again institutes d ban of any kind.

Muneeza Sheikh is a senior partner at Levitt Sheikh, City of Brampton Integrity Commissioner and media commentator on current affairs


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