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Federal government formally drops niqab appeal

The Liberal government has officially dropped an appeal of a court’s decision allowing women to wear niqabs during citizenship ceremonies.

Immigration Minister John McCallum and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould formally noticed the Supreme Court of Canada of the decision to drop the appeal on Monday.

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“The Federal Court of Canada found that the policy requiring women who wear the niqab to unveil themselves to take the Oath of Citizenship is unlawful on administrative law grounds, and the Federal Court of Appeal upheld this ruling. The government respects the decision of both courts and will not seek further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

“Canada’s diversity is among its greatest strengths, and today we have ensured that successful citizenship candidates continue to be included in the Canadian family. We are a strong and united country because of, not in spite of, our differences.”

The Conservative government expressed its intention to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision about a month before the election.

Justin Trudeau made it clear at the time that his government would not appeal to the ruling.

Stephen Harper’s government argued it was important for new citizens to show their face at the moment they become Canadian.

The Liberals accused the Conservatives of using the niqab, which is worn by only a small number of women, as a distraction and a wedge issue during the recent federal election campaign.

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