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Wednesday 7th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Top Tory slams Islamophobia and urges voters to back rivals

A LEADING Canadian Tory urged voters on Monday not to back his party’s “racist” leader Stephen Harper in this month’s elections.

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams laid into the current prime minister’s Islamophobic policies in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Harper’s government has launched a campaign against the Muslim veil and what he calls “barbaric cultural practices.”

“He doesn’t care if he isolates the issues of women or if he isolates the issue of minorities and even crosses, possibly, that racism line,” said Mr Williams.

On Friday, the Conservatives unveiled their plans to set up a $20 million (£10m) dedicated hotline to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Under the plan, citizens would be urged to report such “cultural practices” as polygamy, forced or child marriage, sexual slavery, genital mutilations and “honour killings,” all of which are illegal in Canada and can be reported, like other crimes, by dialling the normal emergency number 911.

On Monday, the government lost its appeal against an earlier ruling overturning its requirement that Muslim immigrant women remove the veil while swearing the citizenship oath.

Just two women out of more than 650,000 people have chosen not to proceed to the citizenship ceremony based on the requirement to remove their face coverings. However, it’s not known how many women have been put off seeking citizenship because of the measure.

“Why is that a national issue?” asked Mr Williams.

“It’s all about getting elected, at the end of the day,” he said. “If that’s the price we have to pay in order to have Stephen Harper as our prime minister, then we should not vote for Stephen Harper.”

Mr Williams urged Canadians to vote for other parties or to abstain in the October 19 general election, saying: “If you can’t vote Liberal or New Democrat, then don’t vote for him, don’t vote at all, because he’s bad for the country.”

The Liberals  and Tories are neck-and-neck in the polls, with the New Democrats — who have a strong base in French-speaking Quebec — trailing in third place.

Last month, Mr Harper faced flak for references to “old-stock Canadians” and his government’s refusal to grant asylum to the family of drowned Syria toddler Aylan Kurdi.