A woman in Cap Rouge Quebec showed up to vote with a potato bag covering her head

A woman in Cap Rouge Quebec voted with a potato bag covering her head in protest over the right of Muslims to vote while their face is covered by a niqab or burka
Photo Credit: via Guillaume Dumas- Radio-Canada

Protests over niqab voting in Canada’s federal election

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The majority of Canadians will go to the polls to elect a new federal government on October 19.

Somewhat surprisingly, the issue of the muslim face covering for women, the niqab, has become an issue in the campaign. It was initiated earlier this year by a young Muslim female immigrant who refused to remove her veil during the citizenship ceremony. The current government insisted she should show her face, and the woman took the case to court.

One voter in Quebec shows his voter registration card while wearing a hallowe'en mask before going in to vote.
One voter in Quebec shows his voter registration card while wearing a hallowe’en mask before going in to vote. © via Radio-Canada

The court ruled that she was not obliged to show her face under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  She has since taken the oath, while wearing her niqab.

Many Canadians however do not agree with the court ruling and in protest have been showing up at early voting polls this week wearing a variety of masks and costumes.

Under Canadian federal election rules, a person is allowed to vote while wearing a face covering, as long as they take an oath attesting they are eligible to vote and show two pieces of identification, at least one of which shows their current address.

From a facebook page, a man shows the disguise he will wear to vote. A later photo shows him at outside the polling station wearing the disguise
From a facebook page, a man shows the disguise he will wear to vote. A later photo shows him at outside the polling station wearing the disguise © Le 19 octobre je vote voilee

Of the several disguised voters, most are protesting the concept of being able to vote without a visual identification.

A French-language Facebook page begun by Catherine Leclerc called “le 19 octobre, je vote voilee” ( On October 19th, I’ll vote wearing a veil) has proved quite popular.

The French language paper Journal de Montreal, reported on October 9, that two residents of the city Levis Quebec were able to vote with faces covered and without having to take an oath of eligibility. The man wore a clown mask, and his female friend wore a scarf that covered her face.

He is quoted saying, “On m’a juste demandé mon permis de conduire et ensuite on m’a donné mon bulletin de vote “ (They only asked to see my driver’s licence, and then gave me the ballot).

Yet another variation on the niqab ruling outside an advance poll in the province of Quebec
Yet another variation on the protest over the niqab ruling outside an advance poll in the province of Quebec © Radio-Canada

The Journal also reports an incident in Montreal of a man wearing a burka in protest was accosted physically in the street by a Muslim man who objected to the costume in the street outside the voting location.

A voter in Newfoundland dressed up in traditional Newfoundland
A voter in Newfoundland dressed up in traditional Newfoundland “mummer” outfit to vote. In this case though, many people thought he was contesting the right to vote while wearing a niqab, or face covering and he had to explain that he was actually protesting against protesters and instead celebrating the right to vote with face covered, ie for muslim women.

It is not clear how many voted with faces covered as Elections Canada records only the number taking the oath of eligibility, and not why.

With additional file from Hayden Watters-CBC

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Posted in Immigration & Refugees, Politics, Society

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11 comments on “Protests over niqab voting in Canada’s federal election
  1. Donna Lamarche says:

    I voted with a balaclava over my face. was moved to the front of the line, voted was only asked to show my drivers license,signed nothing to state who I really was and was not asked to remove my balaclava…..Then proceeded to walk in front of our local newspaper office, which my polling station is right across the street from. Nothing. WOW are we to lose our rights and laws in Canada, What about Canadians rights to know who we allow to vote to change our laws for everyone to enjoy the freedom to live in a peaceful country. Other Canadian cultures religious rights and freedom. Stop the insanity we must live in a open face society we are all beautiful just as we are. Not to cover and hide it builds deceit and corruption threw out history, and until the news media decides to report the real news….We must all spread the real news about what is happening in our country and other countries around the world.

  2. Marla says:

    I as a second generation Canadian born of first generation parents who were born of immigrant parents who came to this country and assimilated and were PROUD to be Canadians and all that Canada represented and afforded them am appalled at the weakness our government has shown by allowing people to vote with their faces covered. This is a sign of what the future holds for us as Canadians. It will not be long until we are just like England. Respecting one’s core values is totally different than negating our traditions and expectations if you want to be Canadian.

    • Adham Abouzeid says:

      you make it seem like they covered their face just so they dont show when they’re voting.

      1. a woman who wears niqab wears it anywhere men are to protect her looks from anyones gaze.

      2. there’s nothing morally wrong with it, considering voting is a private matter anyway.

      lack of education & our unfair judgement and treatment of others is toxic for our society, especially without understanding “the other”

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        Your choice to vote and for who is private not your identity to the country. If there is no accountability then the voting system is a charade and I would worry such a system can become easily corrupted, is that not a concern to you?

  3. Jason Clark says:

    Just so everyone knows…we have had mail in and proxy voting here in Canada for years, and nobody has been freaking out about it. Nobody is actually required to show photo ID, making tons of voters, technically, faceless. Nobody has been freaking out about that. If you weren’t previously freaking out, and are only freaking out now, because a certain .032% of the population might not show their faces on election day, then you are a bigot, plain and simple.

    If you want to stop being a bigot, and would like to be consistent, then oppose all mail in voting by Canadians abroad. Protest Canadian Forces abroad voting by mail, and demand they only be allowed to use unit polling stations. Demand that anyone bed ridden with a disability or illness, that doesn’t allow them to make it to the polls, not be allowed to vote. Demand no proxy voting for lumberjacks, fisherman, or the like. Demand that photo ID be the only allowable ID. Spread your disdain, for not bringing your uncovered face to the polls, evenly. Then, and only then, will you not be a bigot.

  4. Colleen says:

    Actually, a lot of people are wearing face coverings to vote to protest the stupidity of making the niqab an election issue in the first place. See http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/10/13/mummers-newfoundland-niqab-voting_n_8289152.html

  5. polos says:

    the parties that campaign to scrap all the laws that protect our security is making dirty deals!! look at the candidates : Faizal Hassan, Omar Alghabra, Fahreen Khan, Yasmin Ratansi, Khalid Ahmed …… SORRY TOM , jUSTIN , You play cheap, We”ll pay high

  6. Ernie says:

    What we have here is social terrorism and then after the democracy is laid to waste then sharia law and then your rights are all but gone. Is this a warning bell, sadly it’s a warning cry because people are going to lose a lot now since this court case as crushed common sense and upheld islamic traditions that have nothing but the sole purpose to subjugate freedom in western culture. If our government can’t stand up and simply stated this religion as a purposeful attack on our country then the courts and the government will bend over backwards for canada to become another islamic country with women being raped, abused and honour killings will be made acceptable. It sounds far fetched but is it really that far when you see europe falling to pieces and here we are taking the exact route.

  7. John Arato says:

    Disneyland Canada due to “justice” system!

  8. Tina Earle says:

    So, if someone showed up at your door some night with their face covered, not knowing if they were male or female, would you let them in?
    Could you go to a muslim country and demand the entire country change their law so you could walk around in a thong? Do you actually think Canada is so immune to the terrorist carnage you see around the world on a daily basis? Guess what Canada, there are already over 100,000 illegals from the majority of muslim countries hiding in our woodwork, why not keep shipping them in by the tens of thousands through the front door unchecked as the liberals and ndp would let happen. You want change?, guess what, you’re gonna get it. Wake up.