Masked voting not an issue for these Cambridge residents

By  | October 19, 2015 | 28 Comments | Filed under: Announcements


Masked voting

Richard Vivian, Times Staff

Tommy and Lucy Vann voted during the Oct. 19 federal election wearing face coverings.

Cambridge Times

CAMBRIDGE – In an act of protest, Cambridge residents Tommy and Lucy Vann donned masks before heading into a Preston polling station this evening (Oct. 19).

Theirs wasn’t a comment on the state of Canadian politics, but a demonstration of discontent with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to overturn a ban on wearing facial coverings, such as the niqab, during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.

“We had thumbs-up, we had handshakes from a large number of people,” commented Tommy Vann, whose head was covered with a Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore donkey mask – only his eyes were visible. “There was the odd one who didn’t approve of it, and that’s understandable – everyone has their choice of opinions.”

As per Elections Canada procedure, Tommy and Lucy Vann were asked to take off the mask or swear an oath they are who they claimed to be. As with all voters, they were required to show identification before casting a ballot.



28 Responses to Masked voting not an issue for these Cambridge residents

    alan marshall October 20, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Well whether I agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision I’m still glad that Tommy made a point ie. it’s legal for everybody to wear a facial covering in public. Hmm I’m not sure I’d want to walk into either a bank or a police station wearing a mask though.

    Gloria October 20, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Why have photo id if facial recognition no longer a legal requirement???

    David Bond October 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Once again Tommy Vann nails public feelings on the number. Equal rights for everyone. Good job Tommy and Lucy. Tommy for Mayor!

    Margaret Barr October 21, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I happened to be scrutineering at the poll where Tom and Lucy voted. When they arrived I was in the back office. The DRO came in and said “Margaret, we may have a problem out here, and need you to come and witness. We have people here in masks.” I came out with him to stand and watch the process. Lo and behold when I went out front, who did I see standing between the 2 masked people? Tom and Lucy’s daughter. Seeing her, I knew it was Lucy and Tom behind the masks. It was all I could do to remain professional and not start laughing that anyone would think these 2 people might be any kind of risk. But, of course no one except me knew who they were. The DRO was just doing his job. Funny thing though, is that when one woman in a burqa came to vote, no one asked me to ‘witness’….

    Les October 21, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Clearly the system has some tuning to do.

    Wayne Conley October 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    In Galt there was a person with a bag over their head voting. What has this world come to when people can hide their identity and still be able to vote? The Police should have put them in jail so this never happens again. The burqa is a religious right to be worn.

    Fatima Pereira October 21, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    On this one, I have to disagree with Tommy! I respect his right to hide his face, if he wants to do so! BUT, but I disagree with him!

    The whole issue with the Niqab is for a WOMAN to choose to veil or not veil her face.
    It is based on religious practices such as was the case for little Portuguese Catholic girls to wear a veil on their heads when going to church prior to Confirmation.

    My sisters and I, and most of my cousins did this. That the Niqab veils the face is not the issue, as a veiled woman, can, in private, show her face to another woman (Government Official), for the purposes of identification verification.
    The issue is whether yet again, we try to tell women what they can and cannot do. The Supreme Court ruled on this issue based on Charter rights.

    I applaud the very courageous woman who fought this battle all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Please don’t make a mockery of her hard fought, and hard won battle.

    Thank you.

    Fatima Pereira

    Toward the Egalitarian Society

      Gary Worton October 22, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Hide your face, flash your boobs. What a joke!

    David October 22, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    There is a lot to learn about the face covering worn by these women. They themselves have admitted it has nothing to do with the religion. It is nothing more than a custom. The clothing was a necessity for the type of weather and sunny/sandy environment of the area. They are trying to mislead the public in to believing it is religious for sympathy and control. And once a person comes to Canada, and becomes a citizen of Canada, there are some RULES and LAWS that must be abided and religion should have nothing to do with it. Even in the bible there is scripture about an eye for an eye and more…should we continue with these religious beliefs??? I doubt it.

      Gary Worton October 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Exactly the same a few years ago when Sikhs tried the same stunt with their turban crap. Not to mention Jews with the ‘yarmulka’. Sorry if the spelling is wrong.

    les October 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    How does it go,,,, when in Rome,,,,

    Tommy Vann October 22, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    It has been some time since I googled this site due to summer commitments and family happenings.
    In other words…Time.
    Got the heads up on some comments here, great to see.

    I did speak with Fatima before the vote saying I wouldn’t wear a veil. Instead I wore a costume that fit the moment perfectly.

    I must ask you Fatima; did those that wore the veil in your culture do so when swearing in to becoming a Canadian citizen?

    Is it too much to ask???( many have said in conversation lately). Oh well we did it and are damn proud we took a stance.

    Margaret and the others at the polling station treated us very well and all though some were nervous they did their job correctly and allowed us our right to cover our faces.

    Next up, I might just see how equal my rights are and walk into the bank and drive there with a face covering on. There should be no problem as we all have equal rights… Yes? No? Please look past religion, politics, race and whatever else some want to toss in and look at the equal rights and visual identification issues. There was no hidden agenda here at all.
    Wayne….come back to earth. I thank the Times for putting this into print. Peace.

      Gary Worton October 22, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      We hear you Tommy; wear a niqab, burn your bra. Not you of course, silly.
      However, it might be a way of getting people out to vote.

    alan marshall October 23, 2015 at 7:55 am

    This issue is a tough one for me. I agree with almost everybody. As Fatima says, she respects Tommy’s right to hide his face at the voting booth. As Tommy says he wore a costume/mask “that fit the moment perfectly”. As Les said “When in Rome (do as the Romans do)”. All these are valid opinions. Gary your crack at Fatima was disrespectful and uncalled for. She has more gumption and courage in her little finger than you and I combined. I don’t think you really want to call her or her issues a joke simply because you disagree with her. You are capable of greater eloquence than that.

    Tommy Vann October 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Fatima is one lady I hold in very high regard as well. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to help this gal. If it ever came down to a street fight, I would be afraid of getting a knitting rod in the head. I married a woman similar to her…..A tuff one.

    Gloria October 26, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Wearing a Niqab or a Veil Is Not a Requirement of Islam

    If wearing the veil was a faith-oriented right, every Muslim woman should be striving for it. But most Muslim women — in Islamic countries and in the West — don’t practice this tradition, which was traditionally imposed by Muslim men.

    The Quran doesn’t require Muslim women to cover their faces. Women in Prophet Muhammad’s times were allowed to work with open faces.

    Muslims’ most sacred pilgrimage known as Hajj in Saudi Arabia doesn’t require women to cover their faces. Rather, women are not allowed to cover their faces during the Hajj Pilgrimage.

    The vast majority of Muslims think that the traditional veil is clearly a mark of separation, and consider it an element of the fanatical side of Islam.

    The conclusion of this debate should be that wearing a particular item of dress should be a person’s choice. But showing yourself — your identity — should be a choice made by society.

    Also, niqab or veil is not a part of any dress. It’s a mask.

    If a woman wants to show a hardcore Islamic religious symbol, she can be modest and wear a headscarf in Arabic tradition or Dupata in South Asian tradition.

    When a woman puts on a niqab (a head-covering with a slit for the eyes), a burka (a full-body garment that hides the eyes as well) or a face veil, then she must grant society the right to decide whether that is appropriate to wear in public.

    Read more…

    Fatima Pereira October 27, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Is wearing a wedding ring a requirement of Catholicism? No. It is not. It is, however, a cultural practice that has become part of religious ceremonies. Seldom do we see a Catholic wedding where there is no ring. For truly traditional Portuguese Catholics both men and women have bestowed upon them, at the Altar, a wedding ring. The choice of whether or not it is worn is that of the individual.
    At most Protestant wedding ceremonies, I have seen that most of the wedding rings are placed on the finger of the bride. Does this mean that the women who choose to wear a wedding ring, are incapable of making their own decisions? And are therefore being “forced” by the males in their family/society to wear a wedding ring? No. They make their own choice.
    In the case of the Niqab and of the woman who fought the good fight to exercise her Charter Rights, and wear it at a swearing-in Citizenship ceremony, I applaud her tenacity and conviction. No matter what the choice a woman makes, it is hers. Should she need to show her face to another woman for identity purposes, she can do so. For the general public, she is exercising her right to cover her face. Our Charter gives her that right.
    If a man shows up with a beard and mustache that covers most of his face, would we ask him to shave it off before swearing his oath to her Majesty? No. It is his choice. In Some religions and in some cultures, it is a requisite for men to grow facial hair.
    Taking away an individual’s right to exercise a right that does not infringe upon that of another is not logical……and were this whole issue not about discriminating against a woman, and in particular, a woman of MUSLIM background, the furor over this issue, would be a simple whimper.
    Fatima Pereira
    Toward the Egalitarian Society

    alan marshall October 28, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Come on Fatima it’s not fair to use logic, reason and common sense in an argument. It’s the equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight. While I was leaning away from the niqab being O.K. at a citizenship ceremony perhaps, maybe, almost and nearly I’m leaning the other way now. Stop being so persuasive. It’s not fair!

    Gloria October 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Fatima, I would agree if you could compare apples to apples. Identity of a person and a description can still be described if that person was wearing a wedding ring or a beard. It is not a matter of taking away the rights for a person to decide on what they can or can not wear, but the fact that by not be visible to identify in specific situations. It is the fact that we are being told it is for religious purposes when the fact is that it is a personal choice. It has nothing to do if this custom was first implemented by men or considered discrimination. It is a custom and is to be respected by those who believe in this custom…but there are times when laws prevail and identity is necessary. It would be no different if the beard or ring had to be removed prior to a surgery and if required to identify, then they should be removed as well. If a person is swearing an oath for citizenship, then they are also accepting that we have rules and laws and that these things are to be respected within our country just as we are expected to respect those from other countries. Rights are not one-sided…both sides have to be able to give and take in all situations. If fine to wear in public for 99% of the time, then there should be no harm where there are very few instances where it should be considered inappropriate and disrespectful, one is when a person is making a pledge to a new country and wanting to make change and new choices as there were reasons why they came to Canada in the first place. With various cultures, we have to accept flexibility. If our Canadian Mounties custom of clothing has to be changed to accommodate others, then there is a need for other cultures to be flexible as well. Using the Charter for this instance is just a way to show control over society and inflexibility to try to work jointly as a community.

    Tommy Vann October 28, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    All I know folks is that once again, I am right and there is no need to further this discussion. Perhaps I forced Lucy to wear her covering and I can control what she does and says. After all I am the boss. All Catholic women must obey their husband I have been told. Watch this….Lucy….get me a beer…now… I have to go, someone is at the door.

    alan marshall October 29, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Tommy, Tommy, Tommy….. hmmn. Could Lucy give lessons to Betty regarding beer fetching? I’m the boss too in my household…….as long as Betty doesn’t read this.

    Fatima Pereira November 3, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    For those who know me, this is going to be astonishing…..that I would respond directly to an individual’s comment, but this circumstance warrants a response.

    The issue of an individual’s right to express him/herself, is enshrined in our Charter, whether it be for religious/cultural reasons. If an individual wishes to attire him/herself in a specific manner, as long as it is permissible by law, nothing more needs to be said. To attempt to coerce a person to do or not do something is the thin edge of the wedge… fact it is called social bullying…..There are no issues of identity where a woman is able to disclose her identity to another woman (an authority) in private so that she can then either be sworn-in at a Citizenship ceremony, or for the purposes of voting, or to serve on a jury, the list is endless. To bully that woman to reveal her face for the comfort of society is akin to forcing people to ride at the back of the bus because of the “comfort” of the society of the day.

    As for newcomers to Canada being expected to accept the laws of the new land….they have. It is called a Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part I Constitution Act of Canada 1982). It seems that the parties not accepting the “laws of this new land” are those supposedly born or already here. (I wonder how the indigenous peoples of North America feel when they hear such comments?! Do they then ask all of us Eurocentric persons who invaded and squatted on their land under promises yet to be fulfilled, to please follow their laws while on their land?)

    As for the matter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the head dress issue, please bear in mind that they are in Her Majesty’s Service….And as such, individuals of Sikh belief have been permitted to wear turbans while in Her Majesty’s service going back to the time when India (now split into India and Pakistan) was part of the then British Empire. Thus, the tradition having already had a precedence. Canada, other than Quebec, functions under the Law of Precedence (or Common Law), not under Civil Law.


    Fatima Pereira

    Toward the Egalitarian Society

    alan marshall November 4, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Well I’ve come around to Fatima’s way of thinking. It could be that her debating skills are superior or that she’s simply right on this issue. Maybe it’s both but I’m simply not seeing any holes in her argument. Saying that I still love what Tommy and Lucy did at the polling booth. They correctly made the point that if it’s O.K. for some citizens to vote while their faces are covered whether for cultural, religious or social reasons then it’s also O.K. for other citizens to do the same for whatever their reasons might be.

    David November 4, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I’m sure that there would be a different view from a person whose child gets run over by a car and the only description of the person is black mask and 2 eyes. When there are times and places where the mask is not allowed in their own religious practices, how hard is it to keep a head covering but show a face while becoming a Canadian Citizen. This is called respect. Doing otherwise is just showing control and being unreasonable. It shows complete unflexibility and stubbornness. Is this how we want all people in our country to be? Sometimes these things are taken too far just to prove a point. Yes, there are laws and a charter of rights…but this is not just for Niquab…I also would not want to see people walking around in white hoods (KKK). By Fatima’s statement, this would and should be allowed. If a boat was sinking and the clothing and mask inhibited their chance for survival, would they take it off??? Of course they would. So keeping it on is only a way to make a statement.

    Gloria November 4, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    My biggest issue is being told it is a religious requirement just to find out that it is not. And even within that same religion, the mask is prohibited in some situations. But to then use the Charter of Rights to justify the original story just doesn’t seem right at all. But mostly, when it comes to an opinion, just like there are those who strongly feel it is okay to wear the mask at all times, there are those who do not agree. And we have that right to disagree. We also have freedom of speech to be able to state that we disagree. There will always be 2 sides to this debate and the only thing to agree on is that these 2 opinions can agree to disagree.

    Benny November 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    We want. We want. Across Canada people showed their displeasure for the hidden faced people by wearing a mask. Great to see a local repetitive protesting for our rights.

    Fatima Pereira November 4, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    The mere comparison of the Niquab, which is not a sign of “hatred” for nor supremacy to anybody, to that of white hoods or a swastika, or other such symbols is a declaration of a lack of comprehension of the legitimate individual expression that a person has under our Charter.

    If they want to exercise that right, let them. Why is it so bothersome that somebody is different from someone else in society? Diversity is the lifeblood of the Canadian Mosaic.

    For me, the most hurtful public action is not one where someone wears or does not wear something: It is the burning of any country’s flag.

    Personally, I would and I have just walked away when I have seen this.

    HOWEVER difficult that sight is for me, I will defend someone’s right to do so.

    That they have the right to do so, is a testament to the freedom that our flag (and by definition our Charter) offers us.

    And NOTHING, not even the burning of the flag, would keep me from defending the right of the individual who burns it.

    With respect to a sinking ship… often do persons whose ship is sinking take all of their clothes off because they are too heavy and could drown them? Some choose to do so, others not.

    As for the bearded person who is responsible for a hit and run….how do we differentiate him from anybody else? He could have been wearing a false beard. Are we going to “outlaw” beards?


    Fatima Pereira

    Toward the Egalitarian Society

    les November 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Wonderful exchanges on this topic. It exemplifies the freedom of speech and opinions available to us in this great country without the fear that some one will come and either drag you away never to be found or threaten to come and shoot you because of your view point.
    It is fear that drives this issue in my opinion, nothing more nothing less.
    Fear of what May happen here as is happening in other parts of the world.
    Fear that if we allow even the slightest sliver of that culture to enter
    ours, it will proliferate and overtake over or negatively affect our way of life.
    Is it freedom of religion or freedom of choice at stake ?
    As someone who did business in the Pacific Rim in particular Indonesia, which just happens to be the largest Muslim population in the world, some 200 plus million people, never once did I see a woman with her faced covered. So in my view, it is a cultural preference issue more than a religious one.
    The question also arises.
    How do we know that the woman in question is wearing her attire because it is her choice or because she is being forced to do so ?
    In this country, such force would be deemed against her rights and freedoms if she was not a willing participant.
    Here in Cambridge, I have witnessed a woman sitting in the back seat of a car by herself, while her husband ( I presume ) drove in the front.
    Does anyone really think that once coming to this country, seeing the way of life of everyone here, her action is voluntary or simply a custom ?
    While protecting women’s rights are we jeopardizing her actual freedom >?

    This entire issue is a very difficult topic and I am glad it is being discussed with civility versus venom. Many other nations are making moves that reflect their public opinion on the topic that greatly vary from ours.
    The final outcome of it all will be interesting.

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