Controversial Christmas tree #3

Last Christmas, I blogged about two controversial Christmas trees. Surprise, surprise … Christmas trees are controversial again this year.

A judge in Ontario ordered that a Christmas tree be removed from the courthouse lobby. This time, the community wouldn’t stand for it.

The story was reported in Thursday’s Globe and Mail:

Toronto — A judge’s order to have a Christmas tree moved from the lobby of an Ontario courthouse for fear it would offend non-Christians backfired Thursday, drawing the ire of everyone from the Muslim Canadian Congress to Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Ontario Court Justice Marion Cohen ordered the tree moved from the lobby of the Toronto courthouse to an out-of-the-way corridor because it was a Christian symbol that might not make everyone entering the building feel comfortable.

“This is stupidity and takes political correctness to new heights,” said Farzana Hassan, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

“We should ban political correctness, not the Christmas tree.”

the worst of a bad lot

Premier Dalton McGuinty … was happy to rally behind the tannenbaum.

“We’re not asking any one of the wonderful communities that make up our province to somehow abandon their traditions,” said Mr. McGuinty, who noted that Judge Cohen likely erred by not suggesting instead that the lobby be decorated to represent other faiths.

“What we’re saying is, let’s share in those opportunities, let’s better understand those celebrations.”

The Ontario legislature celebrated the Hindu holiday of Diwali a few weeks ago, the Islamic holiday Eid shortly afterward, and will mark Hannukah next week with the lighting of a menorah, Mr. McGuinty noted.

The Canadian Jewish Congress agreed it would have been a nice gesture to include decorations from other faiths, but opted not to dignify what it considered a non-issue.

“This, in one way or another, comes up every year and I think it’s just part of a multicultural society’s growing pains,” said CJC executive vice-president Manuel Prutschi.

Mr. Prutschi said he himself would not be offended by the sight of a Christmas tree in a courthouse or government building.

“The presence of the Christmas tree is a symbol for a lot of people — believing Christians and perhaps non-believers — of a joyous holiday, and we respect that and acknowledge that.”

The Ontario Bar Association wrote Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, urging him to put a policy in place that “promotes a greater understanding of the diverse religions and cultures in Ontario by allowing displays and symbols, such as Christmas trees, in our courthouses.”

“Our sense is that it’s better for Canadians to respect all the cultural traditions and having a Christmas tree in the courthouse is not problematic,” said president James Morton in an interview.

“We should ban political correctness, not the Christmas tree” — that’s a great line!


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