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AVAILABLE EXPERT: Court decision reached on niqab ban

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Queen’s University law professor Bev Baines is available to comment on the federal government losing its appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down a ban on wearing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies. Professor Baines is a professor of public and constitutional law and her research focus is on the guarantee of women’s equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The law tells citizenship judges to administer the oath of citizenship ‘allowing the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization’,” explains Professor Baines. “The government’s policy of no niqabs during the oath of citizenship violates this law. The courts did not use the charter to come to this conclusion; the judges merely read the law as it exists in the statute books, held the policy up to this law, and could see an evident violation.

“Thus the question becomes, why waste taxpayers’ money to defend an obviously illegal policy? Perhaps the government felt oppressing Muslim women who wear the niqab is fair game because it appeals to some of their voters? Playing politics with women’s lives seems mean-spirited.”

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