Federal government to challenge court decision that would lift niqab ban

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says government will seek leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada


OTTAWA — The federal government says it plans to challenge a Federal Court of Appeal decision that quashed its attempts to ban face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has issued a terse, one-line statement saying the government will seek leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Zunera Ishaq, a 29-year-old woman with devout Muslim beliefs who came to Ontario from Pakistan in 2008, refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to show her face.

On Tuesday, the Appeal Court dismissed the government’s appeal of an earlier Federal Court ruling on Ishaq’s case that declared the ban on face coverings at such ceremonies was unlawful.

The three-judge panel ruled from the bench, saying they wanted to proceed quickly so that Ishaq could obtain her citizenship in time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.

One of Ishaq’s lawyers, Marlys Edwardh, said the Immigration Department would be contacted this week so she could attend a citizenship ceremony — accompanied by her lawyers “just in case.”

The ban on face coverings sparked a bitter debate in the House of Commons when it was first announced. Tuesday’s ruling —and today’s decision to fight it — are sure to put the issue firmly on the campaign agenda.

A spokesman for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper expressed regret Tuesday about the court’s ruling.

“We understand the government is considering all legal options,” spokesman Stephen Lecce said in an emailed statement from the Conservative election campaign.

“As the prime minister has said, most Canadians find it offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family. Both Justin and Thomas Mulcair are offside with Canadians on this issue.”

The Conservatives would re-introduce a law banning face covering and their campaign will have more to say about the issue in the coming days, Lecce said.

In court Tuesday, Justice Department lawyer Peter Southey surprised the judge and defence lawyers when he said the government never meant to make it mandatory for women to remove their face coverings for citizenship ceremonies.

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Federal government to challenge court decision that would lift niqab ban

  1. So glad Chris has boldly stepped away from the campaign trail to deal with the issues that really need addressing.

  2. Sad. Chris is determined to be stupid to the bitter end.

    • No, not stupid.
      Showing a bit of common sense.
      Who can say that these women with their face coverings are really who they say they are?
      How do they expect to function in the modern world, dress like something out of the Arabian Nights? Sorry- but they are not in the desert any more.
      Our men are not such animals ( for the most part) that seeing their big noses, or fat , ugly faces, is going to send them into fits of uncontrollable lust, that they feel a need to act out on them.
      ( look at the rape culture happening in Eutope. Many of the Islamic men, seem to think women who dress like its 2017, are asking for their meat sicks)

  3. If these women are so brainwashed that they think they should be allowed to take part in becoming a Canadian without showing their faces, why are they coming to a place where it is acceptable to not only walk around with your face and hair uncovered, but half of your body as well?
    Why do they not feel out of place here? Is it because of all the freebies & financial aid they get?
    What on earth are they really thinking when they show up on our doorstep, with their parasitic hands held out for whatever welfare, free education, healthcare and legal aid they can suck up off real Canadian taxpayers? Why do they think it is okay to impose their archaic superstitions on our society?
    Why are they stuck in the middle ages with some things, but fine with cell phones, cars, computers, fake fingernails, tons of eye make up, pants that show their camel toes, and spike heels to emphasize their buttocks, often wearing too tight pants?

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