On Friday, Anjou Borough Councillor Lynne Shand had a problem with her eye, went to an emergency room, received, as she later called it, “excellent” treatment and then complained about it on Facebook the next day. The problem, for her, was that the doctor who treated her eyes was wearing a hijab.
In the post, Shand said that if it hadn’t been an emergency, she would have requested a different doctor. She went on to complain about the cross being removed from the Montreal City Council chambres and, in the comments, about the “Islamization” of Quebec.
The post has since been removed for obvious reasons, though not obvious enough, apparently, to Shand when she posted it. You can see screengrabs of it in this retweet and commentary by Montreal’s Mayor:
Montréal est une ville ouverte, inclusive et diversifiée. Les commentaires de la conseillère d'Anjou sont absolument inappropriés et indignes d’un.e élu.e. Les élus ont le devoir de s’élever au-dessus de la mêlée et de faire preuve de retenue dans un débat aussi sensible. #polmtl https://t.co/wgGDNUtrXx— Valérie Plante (@Val_Plante) March 24, 2019
The inevitable political fallout is one thing, but for now, let’s forget that Shand is an elected official who shared her knee-jerk bigoted reaction online and focus instead on the reaction itself. She received excellent care, yet remained fixated on what the person who provided her such care was wearing.
The doctor didn’t try to convert her to Islam or insist that she would only treat her if she was also wearing a hijab. The doctor simply provided an excellent service. Again, Shand’s words, not mine.
This story could have served as an example of why letting people wear hijabs, kippahs and turbans to work, even when they work in a public institution, is a good idea. Instead, it is a perfect illustration of why the argument for Quebec Premier François Legault’s Religious Symbol Ban is as counter-productive as it is prejudiced.
How steeped in your own bigotry do you have to be to complain about a job well done? Would Shand have preferred a less-qualified optician not wearing a hijab treat her?
At my local grocery store, one of the cashiers wears a hijab. She’s always fast, even if I’m asking for cashback on my order, smiling and courteous.
I have never avoided her line. In fact, I have opted for it when it wasn’t too long and avoided the line of an employee not wearing religious garb of any kind but who I knew to be less effective.
If it was eye surgery instead of a simple grocery purchase, you’d better believe I’d apply the same approach and not care if the doctor had a cross necklace or was wearing a kippah or hijab. It’s whether or not they can do their job that counts.
If proponents of the Religious Symbol Ban can’t see that, they only need to look to Shand’s story to see how ridiculous they sound.