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The Controversial Face Coverings Of Canadian Voters

Record numbers of Canadians lined up to vote at advanced polls last weekend, but some did more than simply cast a ballot. Many protested the Conservative government ban on wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies by donning facial coverings of their own.

Jon Keefe of St. John's, Newfoundland, wore his "mummers" attire. Mummering, a longtime tradition in outport Newfoundland, involves groups of people donning outlandish costumes and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours.

A Christmas tradition, the visiting mummers enjoy food and drink while the hosts try to figure out the true identities of their guests dressed in costumes and masks.

But Keefe didn't dress up to ridicule the niqab. He wanted to celebrate the controversial face-covering as part of Canada's multicultural fabric.

"It seemed like a great way to work in the point that there are already a lot of cultural customs across Canada that might seem bizarre or unusual to people unfamiliar with them, but we've all managed to get along pretty well so far," he said.

Voting incognito is controversial but legal. According to Elections Canada, people can vote in costume so long as they provide two pieces of identification (one including their current address) and take an oath.

And there's no clarification on what is an acceptable or an unacceptable costume. Nathalie de Montigny, a spokeswoman for Elections Canada, told CBC News, "A face covering is a face covering, it does not matter what it is."

In an email to The Telegram, Keefe said he was defending the rights of people who wear facial coverings, but he was also protesting the undue attention that the niqab has received during the election.

"I'm disappointed that the niqab has somehow become an election issue," he wrote. "The national conversation should be about more important issues, like the need for national pharmacare, for instance."

Keefe has created a Facebook page and hopes this form of protest extends to voting day itself, Oct. 19.

Here's Keefe in all his mummering glory:

Facebook/Any Mummers 'Lowed to Vote?

And here are a few other Canadian voters who also donned costumes as a form of protest:

Facebook/Any Mummers 'Lowed to Vote?

Facebook/Any Mummers 'Lowed to Vote?

However, not everyone who dressed in costume for the advanced polls was defending the right to wear a niqab:

h/t Global News, CBC, The Telegram


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