APTN National News
A family tragedy has temporarily forced NDP Cree candidate Romeo Saganash from his riding, APTN National News has learned.
Saganash is currently in Quebec City dealing with the family tragedy which led to a hospitalization. The tragedy forced him to miss a local candidates debate held by Radio-Canada Thursday morning.
APTN tried to reach Saganash through the NDP campaign Wednesday to get a comment after he became entangled in the niqab controversy. NDP campaign officials could not reach Saganash. APTN also tried to reach Saganash directly, but he has not returned calls.
APTN has since learned that Saganash is currently focusing on his family, following a tragedy that occurred last week.
Saganash became entangled in the niqab controversy during a recent debate in his northern Quebec riding. During the debate Saganash said he believed the niqab was oppressive to women. He also said that much like French settlers adopted some Indigenous values, newcomers should also adopt Canadian ways, according to a recording posted by Radio-Canada.
Saganash’s statement was immediately interpreted as being at odds with NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s position on allowing women to wear the niqab during public citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.
Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau are both against a ban on the use of the niqab during the ceremonies.
While the debate over the niqab and so-called reasonable accommodation has raged for in Quebec for nearly a decade, Conservative leader Stephen Harper has pounced on it to both hold or grow support in Quebec and use it as a wedge issue in the rest of Canada.
The Conservatives are currently trying to force women who wear niqabs to remove the face covering during citizenship ceremonies. The party has gone to the Supreme Court to overturn a Federal Court of Appeal ruling that struck down the Harper government’s ban on niqab-wearing during debates.
A niqab covers a woman’s face except for a slit at eye-level. The covering is used by conservative Muslim women.