MONTREAL — A Liberal government would not appeal a recent court decision ending a ban on face veils at citizenship ceremonies and would end other "unreasonable" cases launched by the Conservative government, Justin Trudeau said Friday.
The Liberal leader made the comments after the Conservatives announced Friday they will seek a stay on a recent Federal Court of Appeal decision allowing the veil during the oath-taking ceremony. The Conservatives said they will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Current laws ban wearing face veils during citizenship ceremonies but a three-judge appeal panel upheld a lower court ruling this week saying the current legislation is unlawful.
A government led by Trudeau "will no longer be appealing the decision," he said at a campaign rally in Montreal. "We will be looking at ensuring that Canadians' rights are respected right across the country."
The NDP has also said it would not appeal the ruling.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said the majority of Canadians agree people should reveal their face when seeking to "join the Canadian family."
The Tories' policy on face veils is popular in Quebec, in particular, as all three major provincial parties agree that people receiving or giving government services must do so with their faces uncovered.
The Bloc Quebecois jumped into the niqab debate Friday by releasing a 20-second video accusing the NDP of "going too far" with its acceptance of niqabs worn by people swearing citizenship oaths.
For Trudeau, however, the right to cover one's face for religious reasons is a fundamental right protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When asked if he thought the majority of Canadians were on his side or with the Conservatives, Trudeau replied that the Charter "defends Canadians from a state that might wish to go too far. And I know that Canadians understand we are a country that defends rights and freedoms and it's how we define ourselves and that's the side I am on."
Trudeau said his government would also end other court cases involving the Conservative government, such as the one where he said the Tories are fighting to deprive veterans of their benefits.
"There are a lot of court cases across this country that this government has taken on to deprive veterans of their benefits, to go after individuals for unreasonable reasons ... we would actually cease (them) if this government changes on Oct. 19."
There is a current class action lawsuit by ex-soldiers against the government for increased benefits, but that has been put on hold until May 2016.
Trudeau did not elaborate on the other "unreasonable" lawsuits his government would end if elected.
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