Globe and Mail editorial: Ottawa should allow the niqab at citizenship ceremonies

Last November, when two daycare workers wearing niqabs were photographed on the streets of Montreal walking with the children in their care, much ranting ensued. The incident took place during the peak (or nadir – you choose) of the debate over Quebec’s unlamented Charter of Values.

While a number of Canadians argued that people caring for other people’s children should not wear conspicuous religious garb – especially a veil that covers their faces – the majority were outraged on the women’s behalf. This is Canada, after all. We “believe that freedom of religion and conscience are universal values,” Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, had recently reminded Canadians as the Charter of Values debate heated up.

Why then, does Mr. Kenney continue to insist that, while a woman in Canada is free to live and work while wearing a niqab, she can’t wear one during a citizenship swearing-in ceremony? Last week, he tweeted his support for this policy after a woman took his government to court on the grounds the ban violates her rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms…

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