Muslim Council of Montreal criticizes Tory efforts to pass bill banning niqab at election boothsFebruary 14, 2011
Montreal, Quebec, February 14th, 2011- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) denounced the recent bill tabled by Conservative MP Steven Blaney in the House of Commons, seeking to ban the wearing of face veils when voting in federal elections.
“The Conservatives are intentionally seeking to stir up trouble and are trying to use xenophobia against Canadian Muslims in a shameful attempt to gain votes,” stated Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “This is nothing more than an attempt at institutionalized discrimination. There is no place in a liberal democracy like Canada for the government to legislate discrimination against law-abiding members of religious minority groups.”MCM notes that Elections Canada did not report a single incident with face veils occurring in the 2008 federal elections. According to the Elections Canada Act, voters cannot be compelled to show their faces and many voters have no photo ID to compare their faces to.
“Clearly the wearing of face veils when voting is a non-issue and is just being used to increase hysteria,” Elmenyawi said. “When voters in general are not asked to identify themselves with photo ID, why are a small minority of Canadian Muslim women being singled out by this bill? The bill is even more absurd given that 250,000 Canadians voted by mail in the 2008 federal election. It is disgraceful to see the Conservatives engaging in such wedge politics and this will only serve to increase bigotry and weaken social cohesion.”
Quebec MP Steven Blaney introduced the bill in the House of Commons on Friday, seeking to force voters casting ballots in a federal election to show their faces. The bill has been criticized by both the Liberals and NDPs.
Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM)
Ph.: (514) 748-8427
The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) is an umbrella organization representing a number of Islamic institutions in the Montreal region. There are over 225,000 Muslims in Montreal, about 1,000,000 in Canada and 1.9 billion worldwide.