Canada: Indian-origin ex-minister ‘sorry’ for backing proposed anti-Muslim bill

Published on Jun 15, 2021 12:14 PM IST

Conservative Party MP Tim Uppal, a Sikh, was the minister of state for multiculturalism in the government of then PM Stephen Harper in 2015 when he had backed the controversial bill

A profile photo of Canadian MP Tim Uppal. (FACEBOOK/ TIM UPPAL)
A profile photo of Canadian MP Tim Uppal. (FACEBOOK/ TIM UPPAL)

A former Canadian minister of Indian origin has publicly apologised for having supported in the past a proposed bill that would have banned Muslim women in the country from wearing the niqab, a face-covering veil, while taking their citizenship oath.

Conservative Party MP Tim Uppal, a Sikh, was the minister of state for multiculturalism in the government of then PM Stephen Harper in 2015 when he had backed the controversial bill.

His apology has come at a time when terror charges have been slapped on Nathaniel Veltman, a 20-year-old who had mowed down four members of a Muslim family in the city of Hamilton in Ontario on June 6 in an act of Islamophobia.

Uppal is currently an MP from Edmonton Mill Woods.

Uppal’s mea culpa has come following the attack. In a Facebook post, he said he was the spokesperson for the proposed bill in 2015, but after his party was defeated in that year’s general election by the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals, he spoke with Canadians outside the “partisan political bubble” and realised “how this ban and other campaign announcements during the 2015 election alienated Muslim Canadians and contributed to the growing problem of Islamaphobia”.

He posted, “When it came to these policies, I should have used my seat at the table to push against divisiveness that promoted the notion of the other. I regret not being a stronger voice and sincerely apologise for my role.”

Referring to the Hamilton attack, he said it has been “a devastating week for many. We are mourning as a nation for a family that was so brutally attacked and destroyed by a terrorist”.

The apology came as a federal prosecutor imposed terror charges on Veltman, who drove his truck over the family when they had been out for an evening walk. The charges were upgraded on Monday.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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