Majority oppose niqab at citizenship ceremony, in public service

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Majority oppose niqab at citizenship ceremony, in public service

Close to one fifth have changed vote because of niqab

TORONTO October 14, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1438 Canadian voters, the majority oppose allowing the niqab to be worn during citizenship ceremonies (58%), and even more, close to two thirds, oppose allowing federal public servants to wear the niqab at work (62%). Those in opposition tend to be older, mid income, from Quebec (78%) and Alberta (63%) and overwhelmingly Conservative (84%), rather than Liberal (39%) or NDP (44%). Opposition to the niqab has subsided since we last polled this nationally (March 2015 - 67%).

Opposition to niqab persists despite options

It is explained that all new citizens must unveil for their passport photograph, but the majority still insist they oppose the niqab at citizenship ceremonies (59%). It is also explained that a new Canadian who wore the niqab recently won the right to take her citizenship oath privately in front of a judge. This is seen to be an unacceptable compromise by more than half (52%). Four-in-ten find this an acceptable compromise to unveiling (40%).

Close to one fifth have changed vote because of niqab

Close to one fifth of voters in total say the Conservatives position on the niqab has caused them to change their vote (17%), and this especially common among Albertans (24%).

Liberals, Bloc benefit from niqab vote switchers

The plurality of those who switched votes because of the niqab issue moved to the Liberals (33%), either from the Conservatives (23%) or the NDP (10%). Fewer switched to the NDP (19%), mostly from the Conservatives (12%). In total, one fifth of those who switched went to the Conservatives (21%), and these are relatively equally likely to be Liberals (12%) or New Democrats (9%). Relatively few voters switched to the Bloc because of this issue in total (4%), although this accounts for one fifth of those switching in Quebec (21%).

Equal number believe, don't believe PMO prioritized Christian refugees

Equal proportions of voters believe (38%) or do not believe (36%) that the Prime Minister's Office intervened in the Syrian refugee admission process to ensure Christian refugees were given priority over Muslim refugees, while just more than a quarter don't know what to think (26%). Believing this charge is true is characteristic of the youngest (under 45 - 41%), lower ($20K to $40K - 43%) and higher income groups ($100 to $250K - 43%), in Quebec (44%) and among Liberals (46%) and New Democrats (51%).

3-in-10 approve of giving priority to Christians

Three-in-ten Canadians think it is a good idea to prioritize Christian refugees over Muslims (31%), while about one half do not (54%) and about one sixth don't have an opinion (16%). Thinking this is a good thing is common to Quebeckers (40%) and Conservatives (51%), but not especially so to any other group.

“It appears Canadians want new citizens to show their faces when they join the family, regardless of various alternative options proffered. It is curious that this is perhaps the only issue we poll where Quebeckers and Albertans agree, as do Bloquistes and Conservatives,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.