Events stake out opposing positions on veiled girls taking citizenship oath

Zunera Ishaq, left, embraces her friend Nusrat Wahid after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned a ban on the wearing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Zunera Ishaq, left, embraces her pal Nusrat Wahid after the Federal Court docket of Attraction overturned a ban on the sporting niqabs at citizenship ceremonies, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

OTTAWA (CTVNews) — Whether or not or not girls ought to must uncover their faces when taking the oath of citizenship has change into a wedge problem within the federal election.

The explosive problem vaulted to the forefront of the marketing campaign final week when the Federal Court docket of Attraction upheld a earlier court docket ruling permitting Zunera Ishaq to take the oath with out eradicating her niqab. At problem within the case is a 2011 directive by Jason Kenney, then immigration minister, requiring folks taking the oath to point out their faces. The court docket dominated ministerial directive couldn’t override rules that urge citizenship judges to make all potential efforts to accommodate non secular beliefs.

Stephen Harper’s authorities appealed the preliminary ruling, with Harper asserting that it is “offensive” for somebody to cowl their face when becoming a member of the Canadian household. The federal government misplaced the enchantment however is now looking for go away to enchantment the matter additional to the Supreme Court docket of Canada. Within the meantime, it’s looking for a keep of final week’s ruling to make sure that Ishaq and girls like her are unable to take the citizenship oath in time to vote within the Oct. 19 election.

Harper can be promising to introduce a legislation banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies if he is re-elected.

“Look, when somebody joins the Canadian household there are occasions in our open, tolerant, pluralistic society that as a part of our interactions with one another we reveal our identification by means of revealing our face. While you be a part of the Canadian household in a public citizenship ceremony it’s important that that could be a time while you reveal yourselves to Canadians and that’s one thing broadly supported by Canadians.”


The NDP’s place has been considerably murky. However Chief Tom Mulcair clarified Wednesday that he helps the prevailing legislation, underneath which would-be residents are required to point out their faces to show identification in the course of the citizenship course of however usually are not required to take away face coverings for the purely symbolic, public oath-taking ceremony.

“I perceive that many view the niqab as a logo of the oppression of girls. And on that permit me be clear. Nobody has the fitting to inform a girl what she should or should not put on. I’m in settlement with the prevailing rule underneath which anybody looking for citizenship should uncover their face to establish themselves earlier than swearing the oath, in accordance with their non secular beliefs.”


Justin Trudeau staked out an unequivocal place in a serious speech final March, arguing that banning the niqab throughout citizenship ceremonies violates the Constitution of Rights.

“You may dislike the niqab. You may maintain it up as a logo of oppression. You may attempt to persuade your fellow residents that it’s a selection they ought to not make. This can be a free nation. These are your rights. However those that would use the state’s energy to limit girls’s non secular freedom and freedom of expression indulge the exact same repressive impulse that they profess to sentence. It’s a merciless joke to assert you’re liberating folks from oppression by dictating in legislation what they’ll and can’t put on.”


Inexperienced Chief Elizabeth Could helps the fitting of girls to put on the niqab throughout citizenship ceremonies, at which she says new Canadians are inspired to put on conventional garb.

“It is 2015 — there are actual challenges that face Canada. However a girl being entitled to put on a niqab in a citizenship ceremony is a matter? Excuse me, this isn’t a difficulty. This can be a cynical manipulation.”

Bloc Quebecois

Bloc Quebecois Chief Gilles Duceppe has taken the toughest line, advocating the usage of the constitutional however clause to override the Constitution of Rights, if essential, to ban niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.

“I would be for introducing the clause if ever such a legislation was discovered to contravene the constitution.”

Aline Niyonkuru


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