Canadians show up to vote at polling stations wearing masks in niqab protest

Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.
Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Some voters reportedly turned up at polling stations with their faces covered on Monday in protest of the niqib debate which raged during the last weeks of the campaign.

One Instagram user fashioned a jack-o-helmet for his trip to the polling station, in support of Canadians’ ability to keep their niqab on while voting.

He explained his decision by writing on Instagram that “despite the ugly views of some politicians who would like to lead us, all Canadians are equal. We don’t come in different vintages. #ivoted”.

Some, like University of Alberta student Mike Kendrick had their faces covered in protest of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives turning the niqab into an election issue.

Of course not everyone shared Kendrick’s views.

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Elsewhere in Alberta, Barb Laidlaw went to the polls in a Halloween mask. The Edmontonian posted a picture of herself at a polling station wearing a Halloween mask on Facebook.

“Just voted in Edmonton and flustered the election ‘officials.’ What a Canada joke to be able to do this,” she wrote.

Some Facebook groups encouraged people to cover their face in order to protest Canadians being allowed to wear the niqab.

One such group, “Le 19 Octobre je vote voile!” has several postings with photos of people covering their faces in everything from ski masks to scarves to Halloween masks.

Not one of the protesters on either side of the debate reported having any problems voting. They simply had to swear an oath that they were who they said they were.

The Federal Court of Appeal recently upheld a court ruling that allowed Zunera Ishaq to take an oath in a Canadian citizenship ceremony without taking off her niqab.

Oddly enough, it became a major issue for some despite the fact it has only affected a handful of people in the last few years.

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Stephen Harper pushed the issue to the forefront by suggesting the Conservatives would ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and ask the Supreme Court to rule on the issue.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair were both on the other side of the fence in this debate.


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