The American Constitution stipulates that "all men are created equal" and that they have "inalienable rights" and that Congress "shall make no laws limiting" these rights. Freedom of speech, religion etc. are enshrined in the constitution and are zealously protected....just look at he debate over the "rights to bear arms"etc. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of these rights and their interpretations have varied from the "liberal" to the "conservative".
In Canada, we finally enshrined our "Rights and Freedoms" in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. It was made very clear in Section 1 , that these rights are "relative", i.e. "subject to such limitations prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". There is also the "non obstante" (notwithstanding) clause, which allows the legislatures to limit some rights (except Fundamental Freedoms, Legal Rights and Equality Rights). This flexibility allows for the expansion of rights as well as the removal of redundant and irrelevant ones. It allows governments to enact laws/rights as society change e.g. accommodating immigrants from diverse cultural backgrounds, while at the same time ensuring the core values of our society.
Many have found refuge and comfort in Canada and have enjoyed the rights and freedoms that exist here. A Sikh can wear his "kirpan", a Jew his "yarmulke", a Christian his "cross" a Hindu his "om" and a Muslim his "crescent". Anyone can wear a "mohawk" or shave his hair or grow it long or whatever. They can wear their national dress whether they are Greek, Turk, Ukrainian, Indian, Arab, Chinese, Orthodox Jew Scottish, Irish or First Nation. So what is the problem of a "niqab"? According to press report a woman wearing it, was expelled from her French class after she made certain demands. She complained that male students were looking at her and must change their seat. She did a class presentation while standing at the back of the class and facing away from the class. No one complained about her outfit or her presence in the classroom. It was her "demands" that created an untenable situation and an environment of tension and unease. No study can successfully take place in such a situation ( I have taught for 45 years and have encountered many trying situations but none like this). She was intractable in her demands and something had to give. She had to go. She was making unconscionable demands. She was placing her "right/comfort" above the others in the class. She wanted to limit the "rights/comforts" of the other students. It was her way and nothing else. She came from a society/religion that gave few, if any rights to women, and rather than show an appreciation for the "rights and freedoms", that she has here, she chose to deny others their "rights" and to create a hostile/tense classroom. Perhaps she does not understand that equality, if it is to exist for all, means that rights have to be limited/relative. There are no absolute rights in democratic society. That only exist in the authoritarian society she left behind to come here.
There is a lesson to be learned here....... For us to be free and enjoy our rights and freedoms, we have to recognize that we have to give up some of those those rights and freedoms so that we can collectively enjoy them. We cannot do as we please. That would be anarchy. We ought to do, what we ought to do and the laws will show us the way, .... all of us.