Kirpans in the Courts

Toronto will have the first court in Canada which will have a formal policy for the kirpan, a ceremonial dagger worn by observant Sikhs. Other courts in Canada may allow the kirpan, including the Supreme Court of Canada, but do not yet have formal procedures in place.

The arrangement came about through cooperation between The World Sikh Organization of Canada, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Toronto Police, the Toronto Police Services Board and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Curtis Rush of the Toronto Star explains,

The policy was developed as a settlement of two separate human rights cases.

The first one involved a Sikh who was to attend a mandatory class trip to the victim/witness assistance program at the Old City Hall courthouse. That student was denied entry because she would not remove her kirpan.

The second instance involved a Sikh man who was summoned for jury duty at the University Ave. courthouse and was allowed to enter with his kirpan in the morning, but denied re-entry after the lunch break.

Comments

  1. Readers unfamiliar with kirpans and their significance in Sikhism might read this FAQ on the CBC website from last year.

  2. Given the recent decision to allow a person to wear a weapon, that is to say, be in possession of such a bladed knife, be it seven & a half inches or otherwise, (the Kirpan) whilst within Ontario’s Court houses, it is yet another example, if Ontarians needed one, that the Lunatics are indeed running the asylum.

    This decision makes a mockery of public safety issues within an environment where criminals abound. I mention this in the off chance you may have failed to take such a minor detail into account because from where I am standing, if it was taken into account, insufficient weight was afforded it.

    I despair!

  3. Fritz Lunquist

    All security is a matter of degree and judgment. There is no such thing as absolute security. Deciding whether a security measure is needed involves judging the seriousness of the threat, compared to the intrusiveness and cost of the measure to prevent the threat.

    So for kirpans: is there a history of their being used for actual fighting or for threatening people, in public places such as courts, or in schools, in Canada? If not, why not figure out how they can be allowed? The principles of open public access to the courts, and of participation on juries, in this case appear to outweigh the need to combat the threat that the kirpan might be dangerous to anyone.

    The same reasoning lay behind the decision of the SCC that kirpans should be allowed in Quebec schools.