Niqab position of NDP and Liberals not shared by some Quebec candidates

The NDP and Liberal parties' position that Muslim women should be allowed to wear the niqab during citizenship ceremonies might not be universally shared by all their party members.

Quebec NDP candidate Romeo Saganash calls niqab 'the oppressor's clothing' despite party's position

Quebec NDP candidate Romeo Saganash said the niqab is the "oppressor's clothing." (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The NDP and Liberal parties' position that Muslim women should be allowed to wear the niqab during citizenship ceremonies might not be universally shared by all their party members, if statements made by several Quebec candidates this week are anything to go by.

Both parties have said Muslim women should be allowed to wear what they want during citizenship ceremonies while the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois would like to see face coverings banned during the ceremonies.

Zunera Ishaq, left, a Pakistani woman and devout Sunni Muslim, challenged the Conservative's niqab ban and won. The government, however, said it will appeal the lower court's decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

On Monday, Romeo Saganash, the NDP's candidate in the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-James-Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, said he personally believed the niqab to be "the oppressor's clothing."

Saganash, a Cree from Waswanipi and the first aboriginal MP ever elected in Quebec, said at debate earlier this week that when French settlers arrived in Quebec, they had to adapt some of their customs to the culture of the First Nations living there, and Muslim women should similarly adapt.

"When the first French people arrived, they had to adapt, and even adopted, some of the indigenous people's customs … That's what we have to do on this issue," he said.

At the same debate, his Liberal opponent, Pierre Dufour, also expressed his opposition to the niqab.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate in Joliette Danielle Landreville tweeted on Tuesday that she was against the niqab. She later deleted the tweets, but a cached version of her website still showed them.

Danielle Landreville, NDP candidate in Joliette, tweeted on Tuesday that she was not in favour of the wearing of the niqab. She then deleted her tweets. CBC News recovered them through a cache search. (Danielle Landreville)

Last week, the NDP candidate in Longueuil–St-Hubert Pierre Nantel said in a debate that he agreed that a woman who wears the niqab should have to uncover her face during citizenship ceremonies.

And a 2011 NDP candidate in Quebec's Beauce riding, Serge Bergeron, has endorsed incumbent Conservative candidate Maxime Bernier largely because of his opposition to the niqab.

"I'm against the niqab.  We have nothing to hide in Canada.  We're a free, open country.  Why would people who wear the niqab choose to come here?  We have our values, our culture, and we're against the wearing of the niqab," Bergeron told CBC News.

Only two women out of the 686,000 people who took part in citizenship ceremonies since the Conservative government implemented a ban on face coverings in 2011 have refused to show their faces while taking the citizenship oath.

The Conservatives have vowed to take the issue to the Supreme Court after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the niqab ban earlier this month.


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