The niqab ban: 2011-2015 – The new Liberal government officially puts an end to the former Conservative government’s attempt to ban the niqab during the citizenship oath


The niqab’s emergence as an election issue was unexpected and odd, but perhaps fated–a consequence of the Conservative government’s own policy, its determination to defend the policy in court and the whim of the Federal Court of Appeal’s calendar.

Though seemingly popular, the ban on the niqab is now linked with the Conservative government’s defeat. “Voters—including many who supported him—were personally offended by Harper’s blatant effort to exploit the niqab issue as a divisive wedge in the campaign,” Ensight reported after the election. As a result of that defeat, history will record Bill C-75, an attempt to put the ban into law, as the last piece of legislation tabled in the House of Commons by the Conservative government—its tabling coming just hours before the House adjourned for the last time before the election, an entirely symbolic gesture of pre-campaign posturing. Both the sponsor of the bill, Chris Alexander, and the minister who tabled the bill on his behalf, Tim Uppal, were subsequently defeated on October 19.

The Liberal government’s decision to abandon its predecessor’s legal appeal does not seem to have roused much, if any, condemnation from Conservatives.

Source: The niqab ban: 2011-2015 –

The formal press release:

“On November 16, 2015, the Attorney General of Canada notified the Supreme Court of Canada that it has discontinued its application for leave to appeal in the case of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration v. Ishaq. The Federal Court of Canada found that the policy requiring women who wear the niqab to unveil themselves to take the Oath of Citizenship is unlawful on administrative law grounds, and the Federal Court of Appeal upheld this ruling. The government respects the decision of both courts and will not seek further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Canada’s diversity is among its greatest strengths, and today we have ensured that successful citizenship candidates continue to be included in the Canadian family. We are a strong and united country because of, not in spite of, our differences.”

Earlier language by then Minister of Defence (and Multiculturalism) Jason Kenney:

“At that one very public moment of a public declaration of one’s loyalty to one’s fellow citizens and country, one should do so openly, proudly, publicly without one’s face hidden,” Conservative Jason Kenney told reporters in Calgary Wednesday.

“The vast majority of Canadians agree with us and that is why we will be appealing this ruling.” (September 15, 2015)

Source: Statement from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the Minister of Justice – Canada News Centre

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to The niqab ban: 2011-2015 – The new Liberal government officially puts an end to the former Conservative government’s attempt to ban the niqab during the citizenship oath

  1. Pingback: Meditating Muslimah on “hijab to be a religious obligation” | Stepping Toes

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