Jason Kenney took to Twitter to defend directives forbidding Muslim women from wearing niqabs while taking the oath of citizenship.
“I believe people taking the public oath of citizenship should do so publicly, w/ their faces uncovered,” Mr. Kenney, who issued the directives as immigration minister and is now employment and social development minister. He asked his 35,700 Twitter followers if they agreed with his stance.
The tweet came amid an ongoing lawsuit over the ban against the federal government.
Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani woman now living in Mississauga, Ont., is suing the Conservatives, arguing the ban violates her Charter rights by failing to accommodate her religious beliefs.
At the time, Mr. Kenney said the niqab represented a view of women that is unacceptable in Canada.
Lorne Waldman, a co-counsel for Ms. Ishaq, scoffed at Mr. Kenney’s public defence, pointing out that the Citizenship Act does not require people to be seen or heard taking the oath.
The government lawyer arguing the case said becoming a citizen is a privilege, not a right, and pointed out that Ishaq had removed her veil to get a driver’s licence. Negar Hashemi also said Ms. Ishaq declined an offer to take the oath at the front or the back of the citizenship court.
Ms. Ishaq, who was sponsored to come to Canada from Pakistan by her husband, put the brakes to her citizenship ceremony in January when she learned of the veil ban. Her lawsuit could result in the policy being scrapped.
The judge has reserved his decision.
A month after he announced the ban, Mr. Kenney said polling had shown eight out of 10 respondents agreed with it.
The Muslim Canadian Congress also honoured his “courageous decision,” saying niqabs and burkas are used as political tools by Islamists who seek to segregate Muslims into religious ghettos and cut them off from mainstream society.
Source: National Post