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
On Friday, employment Minister Jason Kenney said he’s willing to consider “local exemptions” to his recent overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program.
Saying he’ll consider changes in specific areas with very low levels of unemployment in regions with a higher level Mr Kenney made it clear he won’t compromise on the core goal of his controversial overhaul to the program. This is mainly: making sure employers don’t use it as a cheap source of labour when they could be hiring unemployed Canadians.
“I did reiterate that these important changes are designed to ensure that Canadians always come first in our job market and that the temporary foreign worker program is only a last, limited and temporary resort,” Kenney said in Charlottetown after a meeting with provincial labour ministers.
After listening to the concerns of the provinces and territories, Kenney said he is taking the grievances seriously.
“In some cases, where there are very low levels of unemployment found within regions of higher unemployment, we are prepared to consider special local exemptions from some of the changes that we recently announced.”
In June, Kenney toughened penalties for companies that violate the new rules, and promised inspections to uncover abuses. He also announced changes to limit the number of foreign workers that large and medium-sized companies are permitted to hire.
Allen Roach, P.E.I.’s innovation minister, says his fellow ministers expressed serious concerns about the changes directly to Kenney.
Roach said, “We heard from many jurisdictions that they recognized that some improvements could be made and needed to be made in certain aspects of the program. However many expressed that they are extremely concerned about the direct impact these changes will have on their industries.”
The labour ministers’ meeting came a day after western Canadian premiers gathering in Iqaluit criticized Ottawa on the changes to the temporary workers program.
“Limiting the ability to hire foreign workers to address critical labour shortages will unduly punish responsible employers in Western Canada, particularly those in smaller and remote communities where Canadian workers are not readily available,” they said in a communique.
While Kenney attempted to strike a conciliatory note toward the provinces, he took a hard line toward employers. In the past he has criticized employers as relying on relatively cheaper foreign workers as business model for success.
Kenney said, “We would encourage employers, regardless of region or industry, to redouble their efforts to hire and where necessary, accommodate, local unemployed workers,” Kenney said.
That translates to increasing pay, allowing more flexible hours, investing in training or providing transport to work from hard-to-reach areas.
“We think those options are all preferable than picking up the phone and calling a labour recruiter on the other side of the world and having someone fly you in from a developing country, into a region of double-digit unemployment.‘”
Source: HR Reporter