Conservative leadership candidate Steven Blaney wants to ban face veils while voting, becoming citizen

By Laura Payton
CTV News | October 24, 2016

Conservative MP Steven Blaney’s first announcement as a candidate for the federal Conservative leadership is a call for women casting ballots and taking the oath of citizenship to do so with their faces uncovered.

« We have a Canadian way of living – the rule of law, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our laws. We have and we need to protect and preserve the equality of women and men, and we live in a free and democratic society, » Blaney said on the lawn of Parliament Hill in Monday.

The Quebec MP and former public safety minister said he would re-introduce his 2011 private member’s bill that called for voters to uncover their faces before casting their ballots. He said he would amend the bill to include those swearing the citizenship oath and to include federal public servants.

The niqab became a hot topic ahead of the last federal election when the then-Conservative government went to court to argue it could force women to remove their niqabs before taking the citizenship oath. One of the Liberals’ first acts after assuming government was to end that court fight.

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Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said it’s telling that Blaney’s first proposal focuses on « a tiny, tiny minority of Canadians. »

« I think that maybe speaks to a lack of creative, imaginative ideas on how to take Canada forward, » Elghawaby said in an interview with CTV News.

« Canadians want new ideas about what can make our country stronger and fixating on a few women who cover their face if they choose so based on their religious beliefs, I think it’s really telling that perhaps there just aren’t many ideas amongst individuals who are peddling these sorts of suggestions. »

The women who wear a face veil, Elghawaby said, will unveil for security and identification purposes.

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