Harper’s proposed ban on niqab in civil service ricochets through campaign

Murray Brewster | The Canadian Press
October 7, 2015

OTTAWA – Stephen Harper’s proposed ban on the wearing of niqabs by anyone dealing with — or working for — the federal government ricocheted down the campaign trail Wednesday, drawing condemnation from opponents, premiers and Muslim groups.

He told CBC’s Power and Politics on Tuesday that, a re-elected Conservative government would look at legislation to nix niqabs in the public service — echoing similar comments last week in the French-language debate hosted by network TVA.

Harper then went further, saying the Conservatives are examining Quebec’s Bill 64, which requires Muslim women or others who wear face coverings to remove them if they want to work in the public sector — or do business with government officials. Although tabled in the Quebec National Assembly, the bill has yet to be debated.

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“Canadian Muslims have noticed Mr. Harper’s choice of words and question whether he would have taken the same stance if these were bigoted attacks against other minority communities,” said the council’s executive director, Ihsaan Gardee, in a statement.

“We urge Mr. Harper to reassure Canadian Muslims and condemn Islamophobia and affirm that it has no place in Canadian society or in our political discourse.”

The niqab debate comes as a Liberal candidate in London, Ont., says divisive politics are to blame for the defacing of his election signs with ethnic slurs.

A photo posted online shows the words “ARAB scum” scrawled across one of Khalil Ramal’s signs.