Canada holds national elections on October 19, and the race there has taken a surprising turn. The ruling Conservative party is making political hay over a court decision that killed its ban on women wearing the niqab — or face veil — while taking the oath of citizenship. The opposition left-wing Liberal and New Democratic parties have been pounded relentlessly for not opposing use of the niqab. Conservatives have moved from third place into first place in the polls and are currently the only party with a shot at winning a majority of seats in Parliament. A full 83 percent of voters back the Conservatives’ position on the Muslim face veil.
In the last debate among party leaders on Friday night, New Democratic party leader Tom Mulcair was clearly frustrated at the arrival of a cultural “wedge” issue in the middle of the campaign. He admitted that the face veil makes him “uncomfortable” but said that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s use of the issue was “a weapon of massive distraction.”