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Canada introduces bill banning 
veiled voting
Politics Watch ® News Services
October 26, 2007, updated 2:55 p.m.
http://www.politicswatch.com/veil-october26-2007.htm

The Conservative government has introduced legislation that would require Muslim women to unveil when registering at polling stations in federal elections.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  Canada's government introduced legislation Friday that would require Muslim women to unveil at polling stations before voting.
  
The issue of veiled voting has been a hot topic in Canadian politics after
Canada's chief electoral officer said in September that under current election rules Muslim women whose faces were covered could not be prevented from voting.  

All four political parties represented in the House of Commons had urged Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand to reverse his decision days before three federal by-elections in Quebec, but he refused. 

"What we've tabled today is a piece of legislation that will require the elector to unveil themselves," Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters on Parliament Hill. 

The government bill makes one exception for visual identification for those who have recently undergone surgery and have their faces bandaged. 

However, such a voter would need to present more proof of their identity than a single piece of photo identification in order to be entitled to vote and would have to take an oath stating removing their face covering would be harmful to his or her health.

"This has become necessary because what we've seen in by-elections in Quebec . . . we've seen cases where people have not identified themselves and willingly tried to deviate from electoral integrity."

Cannon said he'd been told that in one riding this fall people appeared at the polling stations with masks, veils and other "ridiculous attire" to protest Mayrand's ruling.

The legislation is expected to pass in the House as the Bloc Quebecois is likely to support the bill. A Bloc MP had already introduced a similar private member's bill. 

"I think that we have to work to make sure that everybody is equal and that we will cooperate with the government if it's good for the electors," Bloc MP Monique Guay told reporters. 

Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff expressed reservations about the Conservative government's legislation, even though Liberal leader Stephane Dion had been among those urging the chief electoral officer to reverse his decision allowing veiled voting. 

"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," he told reporters after question period. 

"Let's not have politicians fishing around and creating divisions between Canadians about this."

:  Related Links

> Elections Canada stands by veil voting 

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