Liberals drop controversial Supreme Court of Canada niqab appeal

The Liberal government is abandoning a highly controversial court challenge involving the niqab.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is abandoning a highly controversial court challenge involving the niqab.

The Conservatives had asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal of a ruling that said it was unlawful to prohibit women from wearing a face covering at a citizenship ceremony.

Stephen Harper’s government argued it was important for new citizens to show their face at the moment they become Canadian.

The Liberals accused the Conservatives of using the niqab, which is worn by only a small number of women, as a distraction and a wedge issue during the recent federal election campaign.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Immigration Minister John McCallum say the court application has been discontinued.

In a statement, they say Canada’s diversity is among its greatest strengths, and the Liberals are ensuring that successful citizenship candidates continue to be included in the Canadian family.