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Apeiron Society for the Practice of Philosophy

Tuesday November 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm
in the Valhalla Room of the Scandinavian Centre,
739 – 20th Ave N.W. Calgary.
Topic: “Secular Questions and Religious Values”
Speaker: Janet Keeping

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The Talk:

Janet Keeping will focus her remarks on the wearing of the niqab. She has worked on some of the ethical issues around the wearing of the niqab in the past and has been thinking about them again since the issue came to the fore in the recent federal election campaign. Her general position is that legislating bans on the wearing of the niqab (and similar religiously-mandated face coverings, such as the burka) is likely to be counter-productive and thus should not be undertaken. During the federal election campaign some politicians and many others dismissed the “niqab issue” as trivial and basically irrelevant. On the contrary, she thinks it raises deep questions, for example about when it is appropriate and useful to use the coercive powers of the state (law) to advance gender equality and what we should make of the public’s reaction to behaviour that seems to deny that equality..

Biographical Notes:

Janet holds a B. Sc. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MA and a law degree from the University of Calgary. After being called to the Alberta bar, Janet co-founded and became the first Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. For many years she did legal research and public legal education for the Canadian Institute of Resources Law at the University of Calgary where she worked on a wide variety of legal issues connected with oil and gas development. As part of that work she was the Institute’s Director of Russian programs, travelling widely in Russia to organize professional development seminars on energy regulation and policy. During that time, she was named Honorary Professor, Faculty of Law, Tyumen State University, Tyumen, Russia, and awarded the Medal of Service by the Academic Council of Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia. From 2006-2012, Janet served as President of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. For the following year, she was the Foundation’s Rule of Law Fellow. Janet has received the 2008 Calgary Freedom to Read Week’s “Freedom of Expression Award”, the 2009 “Alberta Civil Liberties Award” and in 2013 “The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal” for her work on advancement of human rights in the province. Since 2012, she has been leader of the Green Party of Alberta.