Oct 17, 2014

By Andy Johnson

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Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney is publicly defending his directive, while immigration minister, to forbid women from wearing niqabs while taking the oath of citizenship. A Mississauga woman is suing the federal government, arguing the ban violates her Charter rights by failing to accommodate her religious beliefs. Kenney says people taking the oath should do so publicly, with their faces uncovered. In a Federal Court hearing in Toronto yesterday, Zunera Ishaq’s lawyer accused Kenney of imposing his own ideology on citizenship ceremonies when he imposed the ban unilaterally in late 2011. At the time, Kenney said the niqab represented a view of women that is unacceptable in Canada. 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 license.

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