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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Feds to ban veils at ballot

Critics pan legislation that will require all federal voters to show their faces

The Harper government yesterday introduced legislation requiring all voters -- including veiled Muslim women -- to show their faces before being allowed to cast ballots in federal elections.

Peter Van Loan, the minister responsible for democratic reform, said he hopes the bill will settle the potentially corrosive debate over the accommodation of diverse religious beliefs.

But Opposition parties and some Muslim groups suggested it will do just the opposite -- giving a national forum to a heated debate that has provoked some anti-immigrant sentiment in Quebec.

Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff said while he supports requiring all voters to identify themselves, "what I don't like about this whole project is the idea that we take a bunch of women wearing veils and we make a whole big deal about this ... Let's not have politicians fishing around and creating divisions between Canadians about this."

Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress said the law is unnecessary and will feed discrimination against Muslim Canadians.

He suggested the Tories are hoping to make "political mileage among Islamophobes." [Link]

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