Tolls a bigger concern than niqabs, says Quebec NDP candidate

"People have raised some concerns about the niqab issue but at the end of the day, they tell me they want to get rid of Stephen Harper," says Hoang Mai, an NDP candidate in the Montreal area.

'There are bigger issues to talk about,' says Hoang Mai running for NDP on Montreal's South Shore

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in Montreal last week. His party has taken a hit over the niqab debate and is looking to move past the issue. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Voters are ready to move past talk of the niqab, says Hoang Mai, the incumbent NDP candidate in Brossard–St-Lambert on Montreal's South Shore.

Mai told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Wednesday that voters he's been talking to tell him they're more concerned about tolls on the new Champlain Bridge that the Islamic face covering.

"People have raised some concerns about the niqab issue but at the end of the day, they tell me they want to get rid of Stephen Harper," said Mai.

Hoang Mai is the NDP candidate in Brossard-St-Lambert. (CBC)
He said someone called his campaign office last week to express their concerns about the NDP's position on the niqab — namely that it would allow women to wear the niqab during citizenship oaths. The concerned citizen donated $100 to the candidate's campaign by the time the conversation was over, Mai said.

"There are bigger issues to talk about," he said.

When asked whether the NDP had taken the brunt of the niqab backlash despite holding the same position as the Liberals, Mai dodged the question.

"There are concerns people are uneasy with it. The idea is to move on and to talk about issues that are of concern," he said.


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