'We are all proud to share basic principles'

Conservative backbencher Steven Blaney—with the public support of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney—has introduced a bill that would ban so-called “veiled voters.”

Blaney said it’s not an issue of religion. “I think we are all proud to live in this country,” he said. “We are all proud to share basic principles… one of those basic principles is transparency through our democratic process.”

The government side has known since 2007—after some schooling from commissioner Marc Mayrand—that the current electoral law does not include an absolute demand on visual identification before voting. In 2009, the government abandoned plans to change that. At that time, Elections Canada noted that the apparent problem had not resulted in any apparent issues during the 2008 general election.

“The important thing to remember is that there were really no issues raised in the last general election in that regard. Zero. Zilch. Nothing across the board,” said Enright. “There were no reported incidents of electors attempting to vote with their face covered at the last election. There was nothing, not even a blip.”

Asked about the matter last week in a scrum, the NDP’s Joe Comartin noted another incongruity in this debate.

We have lots of people who vote – many more than people who wear the veil, many, many more people, thousands more people who vote by mail, people who are outside the country, in particular.  We don’t look at their faces.

Indeed, as David Akin points out, more than 250,000 Canadians voted by mail in 2008

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