Veil bill ‘misses target’ say Canadian Liberals

OTTAWA – Liberals have lost their enthusiasm for forcing veiled Muslim women to show their faces if they want to vote in federal elections. Some Grit MPs now admit the party was wrong to jump on the bandwagon two months ago, joining the three other federal parties in demanding that Elections Canada insist all voters uncover their faces.

At the time, the parties were contesting three crucial by-elections in Quebec, where the issue of veiled voters was part of a heated debate over how far the province should go in accommodating immigrants.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion was among those who initially urged Elections Canada to revisit its decision not to compel by-election voters to show their faces. But now that the Tory government has introduced legislation to require precisely that, Mr. Dion is hinting that Liberals won’t support it.

Moncton MP Brian Murphy, who led off debate for the Liberals on the bill, suggested the issue of veiled voters is a tempest in a teapot. He said the legislation is unnecessary, that it targets Muslim women, and possibly violates equality guarantees in the Charter of Rights.

Canadian Press, 16 November 2007