Nenshi's niqab dispute with Kenney troubles Notley

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's concerned "minority-rights" issues like the niqab are being played up in the federal election campaign and prompting a dispute between Calgary's mayor and a high-profile Conservative candidate.

Premier 'disappointed' as Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Conservative candidate Jason Kenney spar over religious veil

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's 'troubled' by the fact that the niqab has become a 'political football' in the federal election campaign. (CBC)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's concerned "minority-rights" issues like the niqab are being played up in the federal election campaign and prompting disputes between Calgary politicians.

"I really don't want to actually fire this up a lot more, so I will say simply this: I am disappointed and troubled to see minority-rights issues becoming a political football in the election and I don't think that's helpful," Notley told reporters via teleconference from Toronto, where she was wrapping up an economic mission Thursday.

The premier's comments came shortly after an escalating war of words between Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Midnapore Conservative candidate Jason Kenney over the niqab, a religious veil.

The dispute erupted after Nenshi took issue with the Conservatives' position that women should be banned from wearing niqabs during citizenship ceremonies, a topic the party has played up during the federal election campaign.

'Disgusting … dangerous stuff'

Nenshi described that type of politics as "disgusting" and "unbelievably dangerous stuff" in a SiriusXM radio interview.

Kenney shot back in an interview with Postmedia by saying what's truly dangerous is "legitimizing a medieval tribal custom that treats women as property rather than people."

"It seems to me that it's the mayor and people like him who are politicizing it," Kenney added.

The mayor responded on Twitter by questioning Kenney's turn of phrase.

"'People like me'", eh?" he tweeted. "Let's just assume @jkenney means 'thoughtful people', shall we?"

In response, Notley declined to say anything further beyond her expression of concern.

"I'm going to leave it at that," the premier said.

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