Today in the news, Canada's Conservative government was reported to have made two significant decisions, one which I would classify as common sense and one which I would classify as common ignorance.
First, the good news. It was decided that in Canada, you will not be able to veil your face when taknig the oath of citizenship. This decision is primarily aimed at women from Muslim cultures who might have preferred the practice of wearing a niqab or similar garment while taking the oath of citizenship. There is currently a similar challenge to the supreme court concerning the rights of witnesses to wear a veil over their face as they testify in court. Identifying people by their face is a standard part of our culture and most cultures around the world. Further, being able to recognize emotions such as fear, hatred, anger, love, friendliness et cetera, is a fundemental part of most human interaction. Therefore I would go one step further than this decision and outlaw the wearing of any clothing that completely covers the face in pubic (with the exception of clothing worn as genuine protection from the elements such as scarves or balaclavas in the middle of winter). Certainly when undertaking something as significant as the oath of citizenship one should have to show one's face for a host of reasons including identification and verification that the oath is actually being said. As I say, to me this is common sense.
Unfortunately the second decision announced today is not so positive. Canada has officially withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol. In short we are reneging on our responsibilities that we signed up to in 1997. Whether you agree with Kyoto or not is more or less irrelevant in this case. The Conservative government is not pulling out of Kyoto because they think the protocol itself is faulty (though they will use that as an excuse) but rather because they don't think global climate change is relevant. As I've pointed out several times in past posts, when you have a Minister responsible for science who does not accept or understand basic science, then you are doomed to making very poor scientific decisions. A government that truly doesn't believe in climate change will not make any decisions to invest in change in the effects we have on the climate. They see it as a waste of money. Indeed, they see the opportunities to make vast amounts of money precisely by ignoring climate change. Sadly many of my fellow Canadians truly believe that climate change is a made up story. Many believe that it is a United Nations scam designed to increase international tax revenue by the U.N. Many otherwise intelligent people actually believe that we can burn fossil fuels ad infinitum with no consequence. This is a bit of ignorance that is all too common.