Politics

Niqab debate important for Canadians, Andrew Bennett says

Canada's ambassador for religious freedoms says he thinks it's important that Canadians are having a debate about the place of the niqab in society.

Debate comes from government appeal of Federal Court ruling blocking ban on niqab at citizenship ceremonies

Andrew Bennett, Canada's religious freedom ambassador, says he thinks it's important that Canadians are having a debate about the place of the niqab in society. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Canada's ambassador for religious freedoms says he thinks it's important that Canadians are having a debate about the place of the niqab in society.

Andrew Bennett says his office doesn't get involved in domestic political issues; its mandate is to advocate for religious freedoms abroad.

But Bennett says he's aware how fraught the issue of the niqab can be and that it's important for Canadians to have a say.

The Conservative government's decision to appeal a Federal Court ruling allowing a woman to have her face covered by a niqab while reciting the oath of citizenship has sparked a heated debate about religious rights in Canada.

The government argues Canadian values are at stake while the opposition says to ban the niqab goes against those very same values.

Bennett says he thinks the fact that Parliament is having what he calls a robust debate on the subject is wonderful and proof Canadian institutions are functioning.

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