Why Ottawa’s ban on veils at citizenship ceremonies is unlikely to survive

‘It’s not in accordance with any interpretation of Canadian law’

An about-face on citizenship

Johnathan Adam Davies/National Pictures/Keystone Press

Fierce debates over religious symbols and beliefs are nothing new in Canada. Should a Mountie be allowed to wear a turban? Should a Sikh boy be permitted to carry a symbolic dagger in school? Should Hutterites who disapprove of photography on grounds of faith be excused from having their pictures on their driver’s licences? These controversies all ignited heated disputes over cultural sensitivities and legal rights. But none arguably has generated reactions quite so intense as Muslim women who cover their faces by wearing the niqab or burka—a practice Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has now challenged on unusually sweeping grounds.

Kenney decreed this week that immigrants who wish to become Canadians will no longer be allowed to keep their faces covered while taking the citizenship oath. He made the move after a Conservative MP from a Toronto suburb reported seeing four burka-clad women taking part in a recent group citizenship ceremony. Kenney said it’s hard for a presiding judge to tell if a veiled woman is really speaking the oath. But that practical quibble was clearly secondary to him. “It is,” he said, “a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality.”

Past clashes of this sort have focused on balancing religious rights against pragmatic policy considerations. In 2009, for instance, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a small Hutterite community’s objection to photography was trumped by the government’s need to have a secure system for driver’s licences. Cases involving the Sikh kirpan have focused on minimizing the danger of the ceremonial daggers being used as weapons. When it comes to veils and citizenship ceremonies, though, Kenney didn’t dwell much on practicalities. He said allowing women “to hide their identity from us, precisely when they are joining our community, is contrary to Canada’s proud commitment to openness and to social cohesion.”

While he’s likely to win popular approval for the move, some legal experts predicted Kenney will lose when his new rule is, all but inevitably, challenged in court. “It’s not in accordance with any interpretation of Canadian law,” says University of Toronto law professor Denise Réaume. She contrasted Kenney’s sweeping position with the narrower arguments being made in a related case now before the Supreme Court. A Muslim woman is fighting for the right to keep a veil over her face while testifying against two men she accuses of sexually assaulting her. The counter-argument that she should remove her veil, Réaume says, is based on the “plausible view among lawyers that it’s helpful to see the witness’s face,” not on the sort of broad cultural objection Kenney raises.

Kenney also rejects the claim that keeping veiled is, for some strict Muslims, “somehow a religious obligation.” But University of Manitoba law professor Karen Busby says the courts have ruled in past cases that only the sincerity of an individual’s belief matters, not anyone else’s interpretation of that person’s religious obligations. As a personal matter, Busby sees the niqab much as Kenney does. “To me, it’s not a religious symbol, but a sign of the oppression of women, for sure,” she says. “But that doesn’t really matter. The women wearing it don’t see it that way.”

Filed under:

Why Ottawa’s ban on veils at citizenship ceremonies is unlikely to survive

  1. It’s becoming rather too convenient for courts to be abused to enforce questionable interpretations of rights.
    If a country can’t enforce an oath of citizenship, why would other institutional commitments continue to be recognized? Or are courts going to openly state that the rules are matters of convenience? If so, what other fundamental “requirements” are open to be challenged?

  2. Quite right. Come to Canada, adopt Canadian mores. Show your face when you are taking the oath to become a Canadian. It’s not a matter of religion, it’s a matter of the ability to ascertain identity, as well as safety. Check your face coverings at the airport, and adapt to Canadian ways, or stay at home.

    • Are you really so stupid that you imagine that the only way to determine identity is to look at the face? That’s hilarious.

      What “Canadian ways”? Yours? Could draw up a list? 

      • No, but it is the primary way.

      • It’s the way most difficult to fake or alter, and as human beings we are tuned in to visual cues ever since birth, quite literally.  

  3. No, it won’t survive.  Just another Kenney bid for attention by winding up the base.

    So useful in a future leadership bid, but otherwise a barmy solution in search of a problem

  4. Like it? Stay here. Don’t like it? Go back to your country. Public safety is the most important than other things

  5. Violating the Charter blatantly for political gain, ugly appeals to prejudice and the fact people aren’t exceedingly angry at the government for doing this make give me chills.  It feels so uncanadian to see this happening.

    • The right to cover one’s face is protected by which clause? 

      • Equality.

        • It is actually religion – and the “it’s not religion” argument won’t fly on this one.

          • Ban an item of clothing for some people, you have to ban an item for everyone.

            All or none.

          • Sorry, Emily, but we’re dealing with a cultural, not religious issue here.  There is no requirement for face-covering in the Quoran.  Most Muslims in the world do not follow the practice.

          • @07fd75faed65e304cea3fe02dd8f8d2f:disqus 

            I don’t recall saying anything about a religious practice…however according to the bible a woman’s head is supposed to be covered.

            So many women…..Muslim, Jewish and Christian….veil.

          • fine, ban the face scarf for everyone. how bloody hard is that? the rest of us won’t wear one either. oh, and we won’t wear complete body covering when its +35 degrees out and we have to walk beside our husbands and brothers in shorts and muscle shirts.

          • @8e4f78bed2212bcfed064c0e48fe9132:disqus 

            Sure…just as soon as we ban all the other cultural and religious garments worn in our country.

            Otherwise…the courts will chuck it out.

            Everybody or nobody….that’s what equal means.

          • Most observant Muslim women in the world wear a simple head scarf, which satisfies the requirement for modest head-covering in the Quoran.  Full face-covering, as well as those prison-like garments, was originally practiced by the rulers to keep their wives and concubines from being gazed upon by the peasant.  The practice spread, eventually, as a method of controlling women. 
            If this were truly a religious requirement I would reluctantly support it, even though I am an non-believer, because religious freedom is part of our way of life.  But I will not support cultural customs that have no other practical purpose than to keep women subjugated.  PS.  I am male.

          • @07fd75faed65e304cea3fe02dd8f8d2f:disqus 

            Veils have been used for thousands of years, and by Jewish, Christian and Muslim women

            It’s both cultural and religious…and those are freedoms protected in Canada

          • I am a nudist and I demand that I can do the following in the nude: get my driver license, swear an oath, walk in public freely, take public office, vote, testify in court. It is both religious and cultural.

            All or none.

          • @ Paul Walker

            Cute…chilly but cute

            And not in the charter.

          • It is if I use my nudity to attempt to convey meaning.

          • Only in the wonderland world of the left.

          • No, in Canada actually….which isn’t left

            And neither am I

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Oh really?  Well maybe everyone is tired of having to bend over backwards to accomodate your religious beliefs.

            Or your chauvanistic beliefs.Or your racism.

            No one….including the govt….ever asks other Canadians to change or remove any item of clothing….religious or not.

            So there is no reason….beyond racism….to ask it of Muslim women.

            Immigrants are generally better educated than native-born Canadians, and speak more languages.

          • excus me you do not have universities where you come from paid for when you come over here by the canadian government and is about time to put there foot down i was born and raised in canada and lately you guys are getting away with to much we are better educated better way of life if you do not like our laws then go back to where you come from we do not want you here anyways this is why born canadian citizens can not find jobs you are taking them away and you do not speak english i work for a big retail company in canada and i have put you guys through and you do not know english and you guys are as dumb as they come trying to get a deal when you guys knows you can’t i also read that headcoverings will be banned in all governments buildings and schools you guys took the lords prayer out of the schools and our national anthem is out to TOTALLY DISRESPECTFUL i support the cathoilc school system and you guys are not allowed in the catholic schools at least we can say the lords prayer and our national anthem oh btw its not a holiday tree or happy holidays its A CHRISTMAS TREE AND MERRY CHRISTMAS.you guys are taking everything we worked hard for away  just because you do not like it so get lost and go back to where you came from we do not want muslim people here anyways.

          • a) my family has been in Canada for 7 generations, thank you
            b) immigrants are generally better educated than native-born Canadians. Perhaps if you were better educated, you could get a job and not need to bring in so many immigrants. There is a massive skills and education shortage in Canada.
            c) I am trilingual
            d) I am female
            e) Not everyone in this country…native born…is or ever was…. a member of your religion. Live with it.
            f) No, headcoverings will not be banned. I’d like to see you wrassle them away from nuns, Amish and Hutterites. LOL
            g) Christians are, however, actually banned from having Xmas trees. Says so in the Bible…the one you obviously haven’t read.
            h) I am an atheist. Dec 25 is Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday…science.
            i) you are a racist…white supremicist in fact
            j) go soak your head.
            PS…learn to speak English.

            PPS.. Muslims have been here since Canada was formed. They’re just as Canadian as you.

          • oh btw the natives your are talking about are the first people to settle here there would not be no canada without them since your an immigrant you probably did not know that so your not that smart are you . Maybe you should read up on Canadian history that should be law before you become a citizen. oh btw they are smarter people than any of us

          • Everyone in Canada is an immigrant.

          • Madam, it is incredibly unlikely you have been required, in your life, to lift a single finger either for or against the muslim community, let alone “bend over backwards” for them.  This is CANADA, for chirssakes, we let people practice their faith as they see fit unless a good reason exists to prevent someone from doing so.

          • You are Jason Kenney’s target audience. He’s playing you like a cheap violin.

        • When 70% of Muslim women in Europe wear the burka/niquab because they are intimidated and or threatened if they don’t, what and whose measure of equality are you referring to?  Perpetuating this “cultural” (not religious) custom does nothing to promote equality.  In my opinion, Jason Kenney’s exhibits great common sense and sends a message to patriarchal Muslim men that they’re not in Saudi Arabia anymore.  This is Canada, not a regressive country where women are merely property.  Wear the burka at home or any where else you want, except when receiving public services or when your identity needs to be ascertained for security purposes.  

          • Yes, this is Canada….and equality is what we live by.
            We have to treat all Canadians equally
            That means Muslim women as well.
            PS…this is not about security.

  6. I feel that some other procedures can be done to make sure that the identity equals the one who deserves the citizenship. I my self is a sikh, and ancestors who have a past full of conflicts with muslims. But I think they deserve to practice their faith fully. The charter of rights also states that and I do know that it is to a reasonable limit. Thats why some procedures should be done.

  7. this doesn’t even need an explanation its so stupid, just conservative/racist bullshit

    • just conservative/racist bullshit on whose part? the muslim women who demand special treatment, or the rest of society?

  8. Its a simple concept really, your here to be a Canadian citizen, so be one. I think its more than just a matter of religious rights or the oppression of women in Muslim culture. At the risk of saying too much, its a much deeper rooted issue, which one can notice just by looking at the fact that not all Canadian Muslim’s adopt this old world “tradition”. hearing the views of only a select few individuals is hardly what I would consider fair in making a decision on this matter, its going to take a lot more than a court hearing and a few individuals with biased opinions on both sides, arguing none the less, to come down to a fair agreement on such matters. At the end of the day, its our national security that matters most. If certain peoples personal beliefs have to be compromised for the sake of a safe country for everyone, then so be it. We all make sacrifices for our country, its what being a Canadian, American, African or any citizen on this planet comes with, compromise. Its what makes a country, creates strength amongst its people, unites us all.


    A proud Canadian.

    • So seeing someone’s mouth move when they say the oath somehow improves national security?

      Could you explain further? I’m not getting the connection.

  9. Women are a protected group under the equality provisions of the Charter.  Permitting the covering of a woman’s face at critical events in Canadian society creates a hostile society or living environment for women.  The women being harmed are not the ones wearing the niqab, but those that aren’t.

    If the Supreme Court allows the niqab to be worn in court and in official proceedings of any sort, it might as well allow men to begin putting up pinups in the workplace again.

    Polygamy and the niqab represent a minority of women creating a hostile living environment for the remaining women in our society.  Men are not allowed some choices to protect the equality of women.  There are some choices which women should not be allowed also to protect the equality of women.

  10. It’s time for Kenney and Harper and their ilk to go back to Texas, where they seem to have come from. They have no appreciation or understanding of Canadian values such as tolerance and freedom of conscience. Time for someone’s citizenship to be revoked!

    • yes, the fathers and husbands of the women wearing the burka and niqab.

  11. I don’t think it’s any of Kenney’s business what a strict interpretation of Islam entails.  Nor is it his business what people choose to wear during their citizenship oath, so long as they aren’t indecent to the point of disrespect.

    I can see the objection about determining whether someone is in fact swearing the oath, however.  Either the veil should be lifted far enough to see the participant’s mouth, or a separate room should be used for female oath-takers with female presiding judges such that the oath-taker can remove the veil without violating the dictates of her conscience.

    • Come to think of it, the presiding judge doesn’t need to see the oath-taker’s mouth at all. He only needs to hear her speak the words – so perhaps all that is required is that she speak the oath individually.

      I really like Jason Kenney, but I think he’s off-track on this one. As our society has moved to the left and embraced political bullying over principle, it is increasingly important that we protect freedom of conscience whenever possible.

    • Come to think of it, the presiding judge doesn’t need to see the oath-taker’s mouth at all. He only needs to hear her speak the words – so perhaps all that is required is that she speak the oath individually.

      I really like Jason Kenney, but I think he’s off-track on this one. As our society has moved to the left and embraced political bullying over principle, it is increasingly important that we protect freedom of conscience whenever possible.

      • Cons are convinced, and are trying to convince everyone else, that Canadian society is moving to the right.  LOL

        Canadians are actually where they’ve always been….in the centre.

        PS…The current govt is noted for ‘bullying over principle’….guess which party they are?

  12. It will survive because it is what Canadians want. A ban on the face veil in all dealings with all levels of government is on the way. The age of loony leftism and fuzzy headed liberal thinking is dead. No bleeding heart lawyer, activist or judge will ever have the power to disrespect real Canadians again.

    • Canadians want equality….it’s in the Charter

      • Yes we do want equality, we want everyone to be treated equally, which means no special treatment for muslim women who want to cover their faces when dealing with the government.

        • They aren’t getting any….they’re just wearing their choice of clothing the same as everyone else gets to do.

          Dress code for one, then dress code for all.

          What vital item of clothing are you willing to give up?

          • If we don’t stop the disrespect of Canadian societal values, by muslims, we will soon all be wearing burkas and be judged by sharia laws. its time to put our collective foot down and say this stops here.  If people aren’t willing to join the rest of society, perhaps its time they went back where they can feel comfortable being treated as property

          • There are maybe 300 women in all of Canada who are veiled….I really don’t think we’re in any danger.

            Do stop with the paranoia.

      • Equality is not on trial here, it is a matter of identity nothing more, and that is the way most Canadians see it.

        • Do it to one, you have to do it to everybody.

          All or none.

          • do what? make people show their face when they are in court? they make the rest of us. why not muslim women? oh, that’s right you think they deserve special treatment?

          • This is about a citizenship oath.

            I have no idea what you do in court.

  13. Forget the political differences of left and right. The divide is growing between those of libertarian leanings and those with preferences of a central rules based society. Many people fit neither extreme but will fall to one side more so than the other in their personal decision making.
    While I personally strongly prefer to see government reduced in role and size over many matters The idea of administering citizenship should very much remain regulated and enforced.
    If the idea of you’re (adopted) country asking you of something offends you so much; take serious consideration that you aren’t being forced to stay here.

    • I take offense at it.  And my family has been here 7 generations.

      • Some people are always looking for some reason to be offended.  By taking this route, they are the eternal ‘victim” and can then cry foul whenever they feel their rights or feelings have been hurt.  Then they believe society must make things right for them or else they invoke the race card, or threaten to take it to the Supreme Court, or cry to the sympathetic press.  It is one of our Canadian weaknesses that we don’t tell most of these people to simply be quiet.  If you don’t like living in the best country in the world because you are so easily offended, then go someplace where you don’t have the option to be offended, because if you express your hurt, offended feelings in the country where these practices are accepted, you would be stoned to death.  
        I have seen women here who are forced (sorry, choose to wear) the head covering.  They are usually following their strutting husband at the obligatory 3 paces behind him with their head bowed.  It’s not the face-covering that people are the most upset about, its the whole set of cultural practices that go along with it.  It’s an obvious sign of oppression regardless of whether or not the woman ‘chooses’ to do it.  I’m sure many of these women choose to wear the face-covering in fear of what will happen to them if they don’t.  Are we to accept ‘honour’ killings here as well?  How about female circumcision? These are accepted practices in many countries and their intent is the same as the wearing of the face-covering, ie: the repression of women.  If we accept one archaic, oppressive custom, then we must accept them all. 
        At some point, we must draw a line and say that the reason Canada is seen as a great place to emigrate to is because we respect other cultures but don’t accept some of their barbaric practices.  If you come here, expect to accept Canadian values, not expect Canadians to welcome those things that so many want to escape from.

        • Yes, you have now expressed your hurt feelings, and played the victim card.

          The fact remains we are multicultural, and also have freedom of religion.

          Don’t hide behind 4″ of cloth to state your xenophobia.

          • Wow, so now I am a racist AND am xenophobic.  That really answers the question about the acceptance of barbaric practices.  You can’t throw out incorrect epithets and claim it’s a debate.

          • Yes, you are.

            The same ‘concerns’ and condemnations were expressed when we were flooded with immigrants after WWII.  Just racism and xenophobia.

            This isn’t a debate…never was.  It’s the law.

  14. I’d be surprised if it didn’t stand…it is an issue of security. The hijab may be seen as a symbol of a religion, but the veil isn’t.

    • It’s nothing to do with security…Kenney already said that.

      It’s about seeing their lips move.

      • …and ID’ing their faces……  

        So how’s that racist?  Hahahahahahah

  15. If the problem is in fact, confirming that the person is taking the oath then why not listen to them doing so?

    • Voices are far easier to fake or alter than faces, faces are the ID standard.  A voice doesn’t prove anything.

  16. It is not just a matter of seeing whether the oath is being spoken. It is a matter of knowing that the person getting citizenship is actually attending the ceremony and that SHE is the one getting citizenship. Being veiled means that ANYONE (actually any number of anyones) can take the place and there is will be no way to prove who is actually got the citizenship. 
    There is religion and there is a Country’s rules and regulations. The Country comes FIRST. ALWAYS. 
    If you can’t accept that, you have no business coming here. If the people of the Country can’t stand up for their own Rules and Regulations then they have no business having that Country. 
    We communicate FACE TO FACE not FACE TO MASK. 

    • Because we base all of our ID on somebody’s physical memory of who was present at the swearing in ceremony?  Do you really think it’d be any sort of defense for a person to say, “Oh it’s fine, I was sworn in at this ceremony where I took the place of so-and-so who was supposed to be there, but it was me instead.”

      You really think that’d fly? Honestly? 

      Are you being stupid on purpose, or is it natural?

      The rules and regulations of this country include the Charter, which says that religious practices must be respected unless there is a serious pressing need for them not to (ala the hutterite liscences).  As Kenney himself pointed out, this isn’t because there’s a serious pressing need, but because it doesn’t fit with his own bigotry about what Canadians are.

  17. Really folks…..are you afraid to talk to a bride?   Somebody in a balaclava?  Somebody in a touque with a scarf over their mouth and nose?

    Or is all the hysteria over this because the women are….you know…Muslim?

    • Purely hysteria, I would say. But considering faces covered in public, religious or not, it is a very valid issue. 

      • It’s not an issue at all….never has been.  Jews wear veils, so do catholics.  A bride wears a full cover veil.

        Jackie Kennedy wore a full-face black veil.

        Kenney just blew a dog-whistle, and all the Cons sat up and barked.

        • where the hell do you live, jews and catholics do NOT wear  veils, and by the way, the bible does NOT say that a woman has to have her head covered. and as for jackie kennedy, when she wore a veil, it was at her husband’s funeral. how  ignorant are you?

          • Yes indeed, Jews and Catholics wear veils….and yes, the Bible says women must cover their heads.

            Yes, Jackie Kennedy wore a veil at her husband’s funeral….and….she wasn’t Muslim.

          • i am catholic we do not wear veils none of us do just go into a church on sun and i have a bible read it often does not say you must wear a veil so you must be getting it confused with yours the only time we where veils is our wedding day or first communion ok so get your information straight

          • Yes, catholics wear veils….and yes, it says so in the bible

            Are you sure you’re even a christian?

          • In my lifetime Catholic women had to cover their heads in church. 

    • OriginalEmily1 you are so full of crap, you really should go take classes on common sense, lol.

       I can guarranty you that if anyone went to get citizenship and they were wearing a balaclava, and or as you stated a touque with a scarf over their mouth and nose they would also be asked to remove such garments for same reasons, it is called identity, or in your world do we give citizenship to the bavaclava and or touque as that is what is being presented as identity.

      This is a common sense issue nothing more.

      • The people are already identified….before the ceremony.

        There is no identity problem….it’s a racism problem

        • It is racism in your mind because that is all you see.

          • That’s because racism is all there IS to see.

          • Aren’t you getting tired of spewing, Emily?  You made your point long ago in this thread so why not just give it a rest?  You’re not going to change anyone’s mind here, no matter how many “facts” you make up, and the majority of posters disagree with you.  Even my dog is smart enough to know when to “leave it”.

          • Well you’ve just admitted that even facts won’t change your mind…you are determined on your bigotry.

            Which was the whole point…it’s racism, not reason

        • How?  By looking at their faces? SOME one has to at some point.

    • the bride lifts her veil before she takes the oath and the balaclava and scarf would be removed in any courtroom. but thanks for the stupidity, it just proves the  point that you really don’t know what you are talking about

      • People have worn veils throughout history….they continue to do so in all religions.

        I don’t know why you hate Muslims, but I’m afraid you’ll have to get over it.

  18. I respect the right of Muslim society to force women to cover their faces so that they will not be tempting to other men, or to demonstrate the differences between men and women, or for whatever reason it was established as common practice centuries ago.

    However, until we have, as common practice, the ability to determine one/s identity with their eyeballs, or an implanted chip, or whatever, then the policeman on the side of the road, the flight attendant at the airport, or the Judge at the citizenship ceremony must be able to connect the face with the photo id.

    Those that see anything racist in this government proposal are demonstrating their silly partisanship, or their lack of common sense——–most likely both.

    • Actually we have that ability.

      You are simply being racist….not to mention nonsensical.

      • And you continue to be an idiot.

        • LOL  Calvin, yer a grown man terrified of women in veils. I’d say you were the idiot.

          • emily, you are either 12 or uneducated in real life. your arguments hold no water whatever. the fact is that if the muslim women want to become citizens, they shopuld act like Canadian citizens. not outsiders. and calvin is not terrified of women in veils. he issimply standing up for YOUR right to live freely in CANADA. if you want to wear a burka, go to Afghanistan, you’ll fit right in.

          • I am 65, and have several degrees.

            ‘Your right to live freely in Canada’…..exactly. Muslim women have that same right.

          • Why do you get to decide what women are allowed to wear?

      • This is a perfect example of someone losing a debate, then instead of accepting the loss, you immediately toss out the race card to try to end the discussion. 

        • There is no ‘debate’….it’s the law.

          I’m pointing out that Kenney is practicing racism, and bigots are cheering him on.

    • If the Courts decide to rule against the government in this case, then maybe that remark of mine concerning partisanship and a lack of common sense might apply to them.

      I would guess they would also have to conveniently overlook the treatment of women as second class citizens as well.

      • I would like to think that the Courts would see they have a role in improving the lives and the safety of Muslim women, instead of turning a blind eye to their mistreatment by men who use cultural and religious excuses for their actions.

  19. So Parliament will pass a law forbidding face-covering in specific instances where facial identification and visibility is required. Then the courts can uphold that law.  There is nothing in the Charter that protects purely cultural activities and Islam does not require either the burka or the niqab to be worn.

    • You would do well to read a case from the Supreme Court called “Anselem”

      • I
        just read an analysis of the decision – of which I was aware, by the
        way, and support- and there is a key difference.  The kirpan is
        religious, face-covering is cultural. So I can see another SC case to
        decide this issue going against the proponents of face-covering in
        specified situations.

        I rarely see a fully veiled woman here in
        Victoria but have female Muslim neighbours who wear a naquib with a
        hajib, leaving their faces uncovered. Most Muslim women I see only wear
        the hajib.  And some just ignore the Quoran requirement for
        head-covering altogether.

        If it was a religious requirement for
        all Muslim women to cover their faces, how come the vast majority of the
        world’s Muslim women don’t do so?

        Like Reply

        • Read it again.

    • To Calvin:
      I just read an analysis of the decision – of which I was aware, by the way, and support- and there is a key difference.  The kirpan is religious, face-covering is cultural. So I can see another SC case to decide this issue going against the proponents of face-covering in specified situations.

      I rarely see a fully veiled woman here in Victoria but have female Muslim neighbours who wear a naquib with a hajib, leaving their faces uncovered. Most Muslim women I see only wear the hajib.  And some just ignore the Quoran requirement for head-covering altogether.

      If it was a religious requirement for all Muslim women to cover their faces, how come the vast majority of the world’s Muslim women don’t do so?

  20. How about the “Law of Common Sense?”

    • Whose?

      • not yours. obviously

        • Actually there is no such thing as ‘common sense’….just opinions by widely different groups

          • not in your world!

          • My world is factual, not fantasy.

    • Common sense said that heavier things fall faster than lighter things.
      It said that the earth was flat and at the center of the universe.
      It said that women were inferior and should not be given the ability to vote for it would hurt their brains.
      It said that black men were supposed to be slaves.
      Common sense is what gave us the Nazi’s blaming and attempting to exterminate the jews.
      Common sense told us that diseases were imbalances of the humors, and that all things were created from four elements.

      If you look at it over the ages, you’ll find Common Sense has very little commonality, and almost no sense.

      • What a bunch of rubbish.

        • Your opinion you mean? I expect so.

  21. I wounder if the Sudies would let my wife drive a car, shoud we imegrat there.
    I think not, because that is their culter.
    So when they come our country they should resect our coustms and not change what we belive.

    A proud Canadian

    • And as a Canadian, one of our customs is that we allow people to practice their religion in the manner appropriate to them, and what we believe is that Canada is a multi-cultural society, not an American melting pot.

  22. I wounder if the Saudi,s would let my wife drive a car, should immigrate to there.
    I think not, because that is their customs and we would have to obey them.
    So when a person immigrates here they should obey our,s and not try to change our western way,s

    A very proud Canadain

    • And we believe in multi-culturalism

      • We may like to believe in multiculturalism, but is dead, because it involves assimilation … and some immigrants don’t understand what that means.

        • That’s because multiculturalism doesn’t mean assimilation.

          Canada is a mosiac, not a melting pot.

  23. Common sense would tell us that it is 
     “plausible view among lawyers that it’s helpful to see the witness’s face,”  but study after study shows that people are really lousy at detecting lies simply by watching someone tell one. So what’s the point? 

    Doesn’t matter, I expect the lawyers will win this one. Look at the cell phone ban in Ontario. Studies tell us that one is quite impaired by talking on a cell phone while driving. This is true whether a headset is used or the phone itself. Nonetheless, the ban is on holding a cell phone, headsets are fine. Then watch what happens when the ban has no effect on accident statistics.

    Science means nothing to most people.

    • Good scientists look at all aspects of a problem.

  24. holy fuck this shit is ridiculous. 

    if you come to canada get rid of all your stupid religious bull shit. and speak fucking english, not hard…..

    you shouldn’t get special treatment because of your religion, if you think you should then go back to wherever you come from… problem solved. 

    • Perhaps you should move to America. You seem to be confused and prefer their melting-pot system to our multicultural one.

      • Me too.  Melting pot is best….there are European Leaders (Sarkozy) who have acknowledged that multiculturalism is a failure.

  25. Oh NOW you want ‘activist judges’

  26. Canada speaks 200 languages, and has people from all over the world

    We also have multiple religions, and have had from day one

    You ‘English Christians’ sure do want a lot of special rights.

    • Canada got two official language French and english. And since it humanly impossible to speak 200 language the easy to speak two we must limit our self to those two. It not racist it only common sense because unlike religion, language is not only cultural, it also a tool of communication.

      As for the christian think, the country is found on christian value and century of fight for the human right. Throwing them because somebody want to be rule by an other law set is simply idiot.

      Living in society got requirement, so everybody must do some sacrefice for the common good.

      • Yes, we have 200 languages and yet only 2 official ones….and still people complain!

        This country wasn’t founded on any christian basis…we’ve had religions from all over the world from day one.

        People around the world fight for human rights.

        The common good…..yes, for everybody.

        • before day one we had the NATIVE religions, NOT islam . and the NATIVES didn’t force their religion on anyone, nor did they try to force others to live by their religious rules or be murdered. and the common good for everyone does NOT include forcing Islam on our children simply because YOU want to believe its garbage.

          • oh, and by the way, yes, I am an atheist! so how about we think about MY right to not have to put up with niqab and burkas on women and children

          • Yup, and along came the christians who tried to force everyone….including natives…into their religion.

            We have also had Muslims since day one

            I’m an atheist Judy….I think you’re all nuts.

    • actually, emily, Canada has 2 official languages   the rest are 
      minorities   that simply refuse to be canadian. as for religion, we allow freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. what we DON’T allow is other countries’ cultures to take precidence over ours. If you are too uneducated to understand that, go back to school, its free!

      • I’m afraid Canada has a multitude of aboriginal languages….and they are all more Canadian than yours.

        The rest are also all quite valid….your’s doesn’t have any divine right you know.

        Canada is a multicultural, pluralistic society….if you don’t understand that, go back to school

        Your last attempt was a failure.

        • As mentioned before and, in case there is a problem of interpretation, English and French Canadians do have a Right as described in the Constitution.  You may wish that it is a multicultural society but, so far, it isn’t.

          And although school may improve your education, it seems not to improve your intelligence.

          • French and English are official languages….not special rights.

            We are also officially multicultural.

            Accept that and move on.

        • My first language was German, and my mother had to literally sit me down and teach me English, so I could go to School.  We considered it a reasonable accommodation, if I were to go to public School, and function in society at large.

    • Like it or not, English and French Canadians do have that Right … it’s enshrined in the Constitution.  If you wish to change the Constitution, I suggest that you attempt to become a citizen and, then, democratically become a member of our government.  Until then, you could attempt assimilation. 

      • Have what right?

        And why would we change the constitution?

        Perhaps we could just try following it.

    • No one wants “special rights”.  That’s what we’re trying to prevent.  Personally, I prefer EQUAL treatment for all.

  27. Here we go ….it’s okay to change our lives, culture, school activities….things we (born here) have enjoyed all of our lives..why do we have to change for other people who come to Canada for a better life…but we Canadians with one citizenship have to change…I’m not liking this at all   NOT AT ALL

    • Don’t worry too much Barb, deportation will deal with some of it.

      • Unfortunately, not enough!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Really? What have you had to change? Being intolerant of others?  My heart bleeds.

  28. I have a true issue with this, I have

    • Which is …?

  29. I totally agree with originalEmily1 that it is another publicity stunt from the Minister, there are other ways to confirm the identity. It is shameful; and what type of image we are building in the world about Canada. There are other religious cultural signs permitted which could be dangerous such as Sikhs dagger, and swords. It’s only education, fairness, and better society brings long term positive changes, rather than these laws.

    • I am not sure about that.  Quebec has banned women from wearing the niqib in government buildings.  There was even a case where a woman was told she could not attend school because she wore the facial covering to class.  Also, the supreme court is deciding if women must remove it while on the stand testifying.  If this move by Kenny pushes the courts to make decisions about the rights of women to wear the facial covering in government buildings then the conservatives will have legal support for whatever choices they make.  They want to keep all Canadians satisfied – many people feel the niqib oppresses women, however, at the same time the conservatives don’t want to alienate newly immigrated Muslims.  If the courts make a ruling, it is a win-win situation….the conservatives can just say…we must follow the law.

  30. I’ve only ever seen a few women wearing the full burka or naqib here in Victoria.  But I do have Muslim neighbours who wear a naqib with a hajib, leaving their faces uncovered.  Most Muslim women I see here only wear the hajib(kerchief)and a couple I know personally don’t even bother to observe the custom.
    Add to this that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims women do not cover their faces, that the burka and full naqib are only worn in countries that keep women as subjugated as possible and perhaps we can see why the Canadians who support women’s rights object to the practice.
    I just read an analysis of the SC decision giving Sikhs the right to wear the kirpan. It is a religious requirement that All adult male, Sikhs wear one at all times.  There is no such requirement for face-covering in Islam.  The practice is purely cultural.

  31. What would you leftards be saying if they required *all women* to wear a Burka when taking the oath?

  32. Can the notwithstanding clause be used if the courts were to reverse this decision?
    I do not see this as a rights challenge because no one has the “right” to hide their face in public.
    I hope the court does rule against the government, and the government then invokes the NWC, because I could not wait to see how the left would react….it would be pandimonium…and fun to watch!

    • From what I’ve seen, most of the people who support women’s rights are not from the right of the political spectrum.  And those Muslims who espouse the total covering of women are conservative extremists.  How does those facts fit into your view of the world, I wonder?

      • From what you’ve seen, you’re not looking very closely.

        Have you noticed that the people who get all upset when husbands don’t help out their wives in the kitchen, these same people don’t seem to mind when the husbands direct their wives to wear a bag over their head all day long?

        For the people on the left of the spectrum, it’s one step forward and ten steps back. The people on the right of the spectrum are the only people fighting for women’s rights these days.

        And then the left tries to dress it up as a matter of choice, that some women actually like to wear a bag over their head. Which just happens to be the same thing they said in the 50s, when they used to say that women liked to stay at home cooking and cleaning all day long. And in a way it’s true, women in the 50s who were expected to stay at home, they felt there was no other choice and so they learned to like it. It’s only when they realized that there actually was another option, that’s when things started to change. But today’s leftists, that lesson has been long forgotten, it’s perfectly fine to go back to the subjugation of women again.

        • I am not a “lefty”….I am an advocate for people being given the opportunity to make the choice they want to without somebody deciding for them what’s best for them.   Is it so out of your realm of understanding that someone who has grown up in a culture where every woman wore a facial covering in public feels comfortable wearing the covering?  Also, are you too dense to understand that many women feel conflicted and want to be at home with their children when they are young but go to work for financial reasons?  Many women would work part-time if they could but they are pressured to work full-time to keep their spot on the corporate ladder.  Do you really think women enjoy have children so a nanny can raise them?
          All I expect is that someone will ask the women who wear the niqib what they want…not assume.

          • “Is it so out of your realm of understanding that someone who has grown
            up in a culture where every woman wore a facial covering in public feels
            comfortable wearing the covering?”

            I happen to be a part of the human race, so I know that spending all your time in public with a bag over your head is not something people do to be “comfortable”.

            Comfortable you say!

            They do it because it’s comfortable!  What a laugh.

            As far as talking about women working or staying at home, you’ve obviously missed the point completely, absolutely and totally. It’s up to women to decide whether to stay at home or not, I don’t care one way or the other, the whole point is that in the 50s, back when women’s rights were all the rage, they HAD NO CHOICE, they were expected to stay at home. And if they didn’t say that they loved it, then they were ostracized by their husbands and the rest of society. Do you think that women didn’t say they loved it back then? Of course they said they loved it, because that’s what oppression is all about.

            But here is healthcare insider, assuring the rest of us that when muslim women wear a bag over their heads, healhtcare insider knows for certain that each and every one of them love it! They all love it! It’s all about comfort.

            And healthcare insider, I’m sure you can also assure us, that back in Canada’s early days, when women could not vote, that women loved it too! And that when women were forced to stay at home and clean their house in the 50s, and they told their husbands how much they loved it, they really really meant it, because Healthcare insider knows that back then they loved it when they had no choice.

            The point is that it is about choice, and that muslim women who wear the niqab have no choice, they don’t do it because it’s comfortable, they do it because men force them to do it, and if you cannot see that you are truly blind. The niqab was invented alsongside the laws that say women are forbidden to drive, and that women are forbidden from exiting their home without a male companion from their own family, and that women must walk behind their male companion, and that women must never be found in a room alone with a male stranger, and all the other backwards rules invented alongside the niqab. All of those rules are common in many countries today, and what a COINCIDENCE, it’s the very same countries where women wear the niqab. And funny enough, in the muslim countries where women do not wear the niqab, strangely enough, those are also the muslim countries where women can drive, and women can actually walk outide their homes ALL BY THEMSELVES! And wow, they’re also muslim. Healthcare insider has assured us all, women lover those rules, women don’t want to drive, they don’t want to go anywhere without a male companion, and they don’t want to go anywhere without a bag over their head.

  33. “To me, it’s not a religious symbol, but a sign of the oppression of women, for sure,” she says. “But that doesn’t really matter. The women wearing it don’t see it that way.”

    This is exactly right, and oppression of women is something “Canadian” women have been fighting for years. Every time I see a woman covering her face, it makes me think this country is taking a huge step back into the stone ages to appease only a small group of individuals.

    I am all for freedom of religion, but to say this is a religious argument is clearly grasping at straws. I find it hilarious that people choose to say this is a choice protected by freedom, when clearly Muslim women are made to wear these coverings for the exact opposite reason. I shudder to think what would happen to me if I went to a Muslim-based country and tried to demand my Christian rights be adhered to…

  34. Hats off to Misister Kenny, as a immigrant myself i welcome this initiative. Everyone should embrace the Canadian values regardless what is thier religion or culture.

  35. assimilate or leave

    • Well, obviously you haven’t assimilated that we’re a multi-cultural society so.. when are you leaving?

  36. I lived in this beautiful country for 25 years, and watched all this developements take place, such as turban to replace the hat for rcmp, this is simple if it violets your belief dont pursue a carrer in that field, you want a dagger on your belt, its prohibited by law so go to where is not, as far as having an open face to identify a person if it is law it should be done in the presence of a female judge, but no exceptions should be made redardles of religion or nationality, in other words let common sense prevail

    • As long as it doesn’t petunia my principles…

  37. What is the big deal? …..They want to be Canadian right?, Live here, and reap the benefits of this Country – Then take the stupid thing off for an hour  in Canada WE DON’T WEAR THEM!!!!

    • If this is your argument, then why when European settlers came to Canada did they not dress like First Nations people?

      • They would have been free to do so of their own volition, not forced into doing so, and often did. Also, Native dress did not obscure peoples’ identity.  They dealt with people honorably, face to face.

        Personally, I don’t care what some one’s faith is or what they wear most of the time. I don’t see visual ID verification as religious oppression, and it’s not too much to ask. It’s a reasonable accommodation.

        Why should the society people immigrate into make all the concessions?

  38. I don’t really care what people wear, but if a niqab-wearing woman can testify at a trial, take a citizenship oath, walk into a bank, then I should be able to do the same with a ski mask on. This should ultimately be an argument about public security and identification. What’s good for one is good for all. If society is willing to accept everyone, including men, walking around covering their faces, then we should have no issue with the niqab.

    • Were you raised wearing a ski mask in public?  Are you uncomfortable showing your face in a crowd that has members of the opposite sex in attendance?  If that is the case, then perhaps you could make a case for needing to wear the ski mask.  These women grew up wearing the niqib in a society where they would be harrassed and disciplined if they did not wear it.  They feel secure wearing it and probably “naked” not wearing it.  Asking them to take it off, is like asking a Canadian woman to walk into the bank in a bikini…..not comfortable…..not safe.

      • If wearing a face-covering makes them uncomfortable in Canada because they grew up wearing it, then following the same reasoning, we should have the courts change our weather because they feel wearing a parka might be uncomfortable in the winter.  The point is, they are NO LONGER in their old society.  THEY HAVE MOVED HERE!  They are now in Canadian society.  They made a choice to move here, they moved to a better place!  Why bring that baggage with them?  They came to a country that celebrates freedom, not oppression.  How about my feelings when I see a veiled person (You can’t tell if it is a woman) carrying a briefcase, walk into the bank when I’m there.  The first thing I think is that they have a bomb.  I know it’s not rational, but it’s an automatic reaction that is difficult to suppress when we know that much of the terrorist threat comes from the fundamentalism that forces the women to wear the niqib/veil,etc.

        • No one has the right to make someone else (besides a minor they are responsible for) wear a parka even if it is very cold so that is a moot point.
          To you, their customs are “baggage”…to them their customs define who they are.  You are so certain that the niqib means oppression…I believe you removing their choice of whether or not they can wear it, is just another form of oppression.  Yes we are a country that celebrates freedom….freedom to make choices about what you wear when you go out of your home.  Why are you awarded that freedom…because it makes no difference to anybody else.
          Now lets get to your “irrational fears”.  Will you be less afraid if their faces aren’t covered but they are wearing the rest of the traditional garb and are carrying a briefcase?

          • As usual, people like you defend the minutiae of the legal arguments for the supposed ‘rights’ for someone else while entirely missing the larger, more important aspects of individual rights vs their impact on society as a whole.  Our society isn’t seen as welcoming and desirable because we have a history of oppression.   As usual, people prattle on about the rights of these people but no one suggests that they need to assume some responsibility to maintain the things that has made Canada the place that it is. 

            Do you honestly submit that full face covering is anything other than a way that muslims oppress their women?  Yikes!  
            Does this mean you support other barbaric customs like female circumcision or stoning of rape victims or honour killings?  These too are customs that define who they are.  If we are to pick and choose which customs we are to accept here, then let’s pick ones that don’t hurt or oppress anyone.  I’m all for celebrating different customs and cultures.  I work with dozens of them daily.  That doesn’t mean I accept all of their customs as beneficial to Canada. 

            Remember that many victims of spousal or child abuse will also defend their abuser because they are either terrified of them or know nothing other than the abusive conditions they’ve endured.  I believe this condition explains why many muslim women believe they have to wear a face cover here. It’s not because they feel more comfortable in it, it’s because they are scared of what their husband would do if they don’t.  Many of these women would also know that to report any spousal physical abuse would result in embarassment to their family.  This is devastating to them as well.
            If you ask rhetorical questions, then answer one- why is their right to wear this more important than my right to know that Canada doesn’t promote or support oppression?  You seem to want to defend their rights over my rights.  I guess hypocracy is OK if you play the race card.
            To answer your question: I certainly would be less afraid if I saw their face.  I would know for sure that the person is a woman, not a man hiding behind a mask with evil intent.  People make constant observations of others and do constant risk assessments.  It doesn’t matter where. It could be in the bank, the grocery store or walking down the street.  Everyone does it, on a subconscious and conscious level.

      • You’ve missed my point. My reasons for wanting to cover my face, whether male or female, are immaterial. The result is the same. Either we allow everyone to cover their faces in public, or no one. If I were raised in a place where I felt uncomfortable without carrying a gun everywhere I go, should I be permitted to carry on here?

        • No, I have not missed your point.  The law is clear….you could wear a niqib too….no one is stopping you.  In fact, you can wear your ski mask and many Canadians do.  We remove them when we get indoors because that is our cultural practice and they are hot and sweaty. Many people wear sunglasses and a ball cap inside even though that “disguise” has been used on numerous occasions to rob a bank.   We don’t allow people to carry guns so if someone from the US moves here, they cannot their guns even though they might have a permit to do so in their country but we have no laws about veils or ski masks.

  39. If these women and all the rest (turban wearing, dagger carrying, etc.) cannot abide by the laws of this country then they should leave and go back to their own country. There must have been a reason that they wanted to leave their own country. They will have to decide which country and lifestyle is more important to them.

    • I am curious Jackie why it matters to you if people who immigrate from other countries bring their traditions with them.  It is like gay marriage.  It is not like a gay person is asking you to marry them.  Why does it insult you so much when it really has no impact on how you live your life?  I myself find the garb that the Hutterite women wear most unattractive but I realize that unless someone tries to make me wear that outfit, it really is none of my business and I also realize that these women are making the choice to wear the outfit our they would leave the colony.

  40. Much ado about a non-issue. That’s how the Hareprites excite their base.

    • Ummmm…  in case you haven’t noticed, the people getting excited are the opposition, not Conservatives.  Some of them appear to be ready to piss their pants over this.  They really believe that it’s a good thing for women to walk around with a mask on all the time because their husbands want them to have no identity.

      And now they’ve gone on their campaign of protest.

  41. It’s about time scare me just looking at them.Steven Harper is one of the best Prime Minister in as far as I remember.Good Job

  42. WOOPS I meant to say the best Prime Minister as far back as I remember some 50+ years ago
    Keep up the good work boys

  43. What has this got to do with Canadian values”??? This is nothing more than thinely veiled (pardon the pun) racism and xenophobia. For heavens sake, there are many other ways to establish identity.

  44. How is this even an issue?  Is it too much to ask for people to prove they are who they say they are?  

    For that you obviously have to show your face.  You should have to do the same for appearing in court, drivers’ licencing, opening a bank account, voting…..etc.  Anywhere identity is important. No exceptions allowed. Requiring ID proof visually is not a religious issue. Go home and pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for all I care.

  45.  The society people immigrate into should not have to make all the concessions.  It would eventually become unrecognizable.  Visual ID verification is perfectly acceptable, and a reasonable accommodation.

Sign in to comment.