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Tory MP Steven Blaney says revealing one's face while voting is a matter of 'transparency through our democratic process.' ((CBC))

A Conservative MP has tabled a private member's bill that would require Canadians to show their faces when voting.

Steven Blaney introduced the bill in the House of Commons Friday.

Voting is "an important right," he told reporters. "It has to be done in a decent matter."

The bill contains an exemption for people who can't show their faces for medical reasons, he added.

The issue has sparked questions about religious accommodation, as it would require Muslim women who wear burkas or niqabs to show their faces before being allowed to vote.

Blaney said it's not an issue of religion.

"I think we are all proud to live in this country," he said. "We are all proud to share basic principles... one of those basic principles is transparency through our democratic process."

Blaney made multiple references to people attempting to vote while wearing Halloween and ski masks. He said he didn't have data on how many times that had happened.

Previous attempt failed

The government introduced a similar bill in October 2007, a month after an Elections Canada ruling allowed Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs during three Quebec byelections.

That decision angered the government, and Harper accused Elections Canada of subverting the will of Parliament, which several months earlier had unanimously adopted legislation beefing up voter identification requirements.

Opposition parties initially supported the government's proposed legislation, but later backed off when the issue was more closely examined.

A lack of opposition support led the government to abandon the legislation in 2009.

Reporters asked Blaney why, if this had once been a government initiative, it was being tabled as a private member's bill.

"Today it's my turn to table a bill," he said.