Quebec passes motion against Ottawa’s directive allowing knives on planes

QUEBEC – Quebec’s legislature passed a motion Wednesday against Transport Canada’s directive allowing airline passengers to carry small blades, including kirpans.

The motion tabled by the Coalition for Quebec’s Future will be sent to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Garneau told reporters that members of Quebec’s national assembly might be misinformed.

He said experts agree small knives, including kirpans — a religious and ceremonial dagger carried by some Sikh men — don’t represent any danger on airplanes.

“Unfortunately, maybe the members of the (Quebec legislature) don’t have access to all the information,” Garneau said. “We are very satisfied that it’s very safe.”

Transport Canada recently announced that knife blades up to six centimetres long will be allowed on domestic and most international flights, beginning Nov. 27.

Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said his government, in voting for the motion, was not motivated by religious discrimination but rather by concerns about security.

“It’s got absolutely nothing to do with any religious belief,” he said. “It’s a legitimate question about security on our planes.

“I think there are legitimate questions to be asked, so this is an opportunity for the federal government to explain better why it made this decision.”

The World Sikh Organization had been lobbying for the change and welcomed Transport Canada’s announcement.

Kirpans are controversial in Quebec, particularly since a 2001 incident when a school board demanded a young Sikh boy not bring his ceremonial dagger to school.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court, with the court ruling unanimously in 2006 the board was wrong to deny the student his right to carry the knife.

Amir Khadir, one of three members of Quebec solidaire who abstained on the motion, said the legislature was using members of the Sikh community as scapegoats because some of them carry the kirpan.

Blades of any length will continue to be banned on flights to the United States, while razor blades and box cutters of any size will remain prohibited on all flights.

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