Transport Canada decision to allow blades on planes incurs wrath of Quebec politicians
National Assembly backs motion 'meant to attack Sikhs,' says Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir, who abstained
In a nearly unanimous vote, Quebec's lawmakers have passed a motion asking the federal government to review Transport Canada's decision to allow finger-length blades onto most of the country's airplanes.
The federal Transportation Department announced that, starting next Monday, knives with blades six centimetres in length or less will be allowed on Canadian flights, with the exception of those destined for the U.S.
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Bloc Québécois MPs first raised the alarm, saying the decision was designed to accommodate requests from baptised Sikhs, who normally carry a kirpan, a small ceremonial dagger linked to their faith.
The Coalition Avenir Québec responded with its motion in the provincial legislature, seeking a reinstatement of the ban on all blades.
"I do not see how the federal government can accept knives in airplanes. It's not acceptable, even if it is for religious reasons," said CAQ leader François Legault.
Québec Solidaire MNAs abstain
The motion, which did not mention the kirpan directly, was adopted easily on Wednesday, supported by both the ruling Liberals and the official opposition, the Parti Québécois.
Some 110 MNA voted in favour of the motion, with only the three MNAs in the left-leaning Québec Solidaire abstaining.
"Security on airplanes, who can be against that?" Québec Solidaire MNA for Mercier, Amir Khadir, asked on Twitter. "But there is something cowardly with that CAQ motion meant to attack Sikhs without daring to openly admit it."
La sécurité dans les avions, qui peut être contre ça? Mais il y a quelque chose de lâche avec cette motion de la CAQ à vouloir casser du sucre sur le dos des Sikhs sans oser l'avouer franchement.—@amirkhadir
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux says his party backed the motion in order to give Transport Canada a chance to explain its reasoning.
"It's got absolutely nothing to do with any religious belief. It's a legitimate question about security on our planes. Up to very recently, the policy for Transportation Canada was not to allow those kinds of knives," Coiteux said.
NDP leader Singh says Transport Canada acted 'objectively'
The federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, who is a practising Sikh, said Wednesday that he respects Transport Canada's objective work.
"I think that they've made a decision based on evidence," Singh said.
He added that he is unsure if the National Assembly conducted an evaluation based on risk and objective criteria.
"What the National Assembly is proposing, I haven't seen any measurement of risk, I haven't seen any sort of analysis of why they're proposing that," Singh said.