Facial covering bill irks critics

Feb. 14, 2011 at 10:30 AM
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OTTAWA, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A Canadian bill that would require people to show their faces before voting could result in anti-Muslim emotions, its critics say.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he found the requirement "reasonable," although he said in an interview with CTV's "Question Period" Sunday he doesn't think the government should tell people what to wear, Postmedia News reported.

Steven Blaney, a Quebec Conservative Member of Parliament, introduced the bill Friday. He didn't mention the burqa, the face covering worn by some Muslim women, but referred to an incident in which people tried to vote wearing ski masks or Halloween costumes.

"I believe in personal liberty, even if I find some expressions of personal liberty a bit peculiar," Kenney said. "I don't think we should be regulating what people wear but when a citizen comes to deal with the government, particularly to exercise their right to vote, I think it's entirely reasonable that we say we need to confirm who you are and a facial identification is a reasonable way of doing that."

Rob Oliphant, a Liberal member of Parliament, said the law would create mistrust.

"I ask, why are they dividing? Why are they raising an issue which really has been dormant?" asked Oliphant.

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