September 12, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Montreal, September 12, 2005 (MCM Media Communiqué) -The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) announced today its total disappointment with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to ban all religious arbitration.

“Banning religious arbitration is very short-sighted,” stated Salam Elmenyawi, President of MCM. “The decision is a knee-jerk reaction, after a campaign of misinformation and inaccuracies. The Ontario government handled this whole matter in a very irresponsible manner.”

Mr. McGuinty announced Sunday that his government would not allow for the establishment of Islamic arbitration in Ontario. He also stated that all existing religious arbitration will be banned in the province. Christian and Jewish communities had previously enjoyed religious arbitration rights since 1991, under Ontario’s Arbitration Act.

Former NDP attorney-general Marion Boyd issued a report last December, recommending the Ontario province to allow and regulate an Islamic arbitration system for family disputes. The report detailed a number of safeguards, to guarantee that the arbitration is consistent with the values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Establishing an official system would have ensured that the arbitration is regulated and done properly,” explained Elmenyawi. “The reality is that unregulated, informal arbitration can still occur. The government had a chance to regulate the system and secure the rights and interests of all parties, but it failed to do so.”

"It seems that the government of Ontario misread the will of the religious communities," he stated, urging the Ontario Premier to reconsider the ban. Furthermore, he called on all religious communities to unite together in the face of this inexcusable decision, for the protection of their rights.