March 17, 2015 9:00 am
Updated: March 17, 2015 7:20 pm

Tory MP apologizes for telling women wearing niqab during ceremony: ‘stay the hell where you came from’

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WATCH: Conservative MP Larry Miller has apologized for his comments on the niqab but he and the Conservatives aren’t backing away from the hot debate. Mike Drolet has the story.

TORONTO – Conservative MP Larry Miller apologized Tuesday for telling Muslim women to “stay the hell where you came from” if they choose to wear a niqab during a citizenship ceremony.

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“Yesterday I made comments on a radio show that I recognize were inappropriate,” Miller said in a statement. “I stand by my view that anyone being sworn in as a new citizen of our country must uncover their face.

However, I apologize for and retract my comments that went beyond this.”

The Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP was speaking with CFOS Radio call-in show the Open Line with Bill Murdoch when he made the controversial comments.

“Saying it a little harshly, but it’s the way I feel,” Miller said. “I’m so sick and tired of people wanting to come here because they know it’s a good country and then they want to change things before they really officially become a Canadian.”

“I have no sympathy for [Zunera Ishaq].”

Ishaq is at the heart of the niqab controversy. The Pakistani woman is seeking Canadian citizenship but refuses to remove her face covering for the public citizenship oath.

Listen to MP Miller on CFOS radio call-in show the Open Line with Bill Murdoch 

In 2011, then immigration minister Jason Kenney issued a new policy directive for banning face covering garments during citizenship ceremonies.

Debate has been raging on Parliament Hill over the niqab worn by some Muslim women ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared last month that it’s “offensive” to cover one’s face while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship.

Harper went on to say that “almost all Canadians” oppose the wearing of veils during a citizenship ceremony.

On Monday, Miller echoed Harper’s comments saying: “I think most Canadians feel the same.”

After his appearance on the radio show, the MP called police around 4 p.m.

Owen Sound police said a 44-year-old man entered Miller’s office and asked to speak with him.

Police said the man made reference to being a practicing Muslim and was upset by the comments made by Miller and as a result, he wanted to speak with the MP.

Police were contacted due to concerns raised by Miller’s staff because the man was dressed in camouflage and had a flag on his arm.

Police said no threats were made by the man, who left after he was told Miller was not in the office.

Officers spoke with the Owen Sound man Monday night and he admitted to being angry and emotional as a result of the comments made by Miller but only wanted to speak with him.

The man, who indicated he had a Palestinian flag with him at the time of the incident, apologized for causing a disturbance.

Police said no criminal offence had been committed so no charges were laid.

Miller declined to comment when contacted by Global News.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement Tuesday about “inappropriate comments that went beyond our clear position.”

“We believe most Canadians, including new Canadians, would find it offensive that someone would cover their face at the very moment they want to join the Canadian family,” the PMO said.

with a file from The Canadian Press

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