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Competing Human Rights in Canada
by Raheel Raza
Although Canada's diversity is usually touted globally, a clash of rights is now playing itself out.
Even though the struggle for reasonable religious accommodation is not a new issue in Canada, this is the first time that the challenge of religious accommodation at a secular institution of higher education is being noted, and argued, by the media here.
In September 2013, at York University in Toronto, a male student whose religious affiliation has not been revealed, asked to be excused for religious reasons from group work in which women were included. Sociology Professor Paul Grayson did not agree to the student's request; he said it marginalized females (who make up a majority of students at York) and was a sexist stance. The student relented and agreed to join the class. All was quiet until Professor Grayson decided to ask the university "brass" to weigh in. To his surprise, the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and the Director at York University's Centre for Human Rights said the student's request should be granted.
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