RCMP’s Mus­lim ques­tion­ing draws flak


OTTAWA • The emer­gence of an RCMP ques­tion­naire tar­get­ing Mus­lim asy­lum seek­ers in Que­bec sparked crit­i­cism Thurs­day that the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment mis­man­aged last sum­mer’s mas­sive flow of mi­grants from the United States.

The ques­tion­naire was used at the Que­bec bor­der cross­ing that saw an in­flux of thou­sands of asy­lum seek­ers.

Among other things, the ques­tion­naire asked opin­ions about re­li­gious prac­tice, head cov­er­ings and ter­ror­ist groups with mainly Mus­lim mem­bers.

Toronto im­mi­gra­tion lawyer Clif­ford McCarten said he ob­tained a copy of the doc­u­ment from a client seek­ing refugee sta­tus, who had been given the three-page, 41-ques­tion doc­u­ment by mis­take.

“He was shocked by the ques­tions,” said McCarten.

The man was orig­i­nally from a Mus­lim coun­try, he added.

“Canada is a very lib­eral coun­try that be­lieves in free­dom of re­li­gious prac­tice and equal­ity be­tween men and women. What is your opin­ion of this sub­ject? How would you feel if your boss was a woman? How do you feel about women who do not wear the hi­jab?” says the ques­tion­naire, which also asked the same ques­tion about other head and body cov­er­ings, in­clud­ing the du­patta, niqab, chador and burka.

A spokesman for Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said the gov­ern­ment found out on Tues­day about the ex­is­tence of the ques­tion­naire. Scott Bard­s­ley said the de­part­ment was con­cerned and the doc­u­ment is no longer be­ing used by the RCMP.

“Some of the ques­tions were in­ap­pro­pri­ate and in­con­sis­tent with gov­ern­ment pol­icy,” Bard­s­ley said in an emailed state­ment.

Bard­s­ley said the doc­u­ment was only used “lo­cally,” but would not say whether there would be reper­cus­sions for any Moun­ties in­volved.

He re­ferred those ques­tions to the RCMP, but a spokes­woman said Thurs­day the Moun­ties would not be grant­ing in­ter­views on the topic. In a writ­ten state­ment, the RCMP said the “in­ter­view guide” was used by its Que­bec C Di­vi­sion and “has been re­vised to bet­ter eval­u­ate in­di­vid­u­als com­ing into the coun­try whose ori­gin is un­known, while be­ing re­spect­ful of their sit­u­a­tions.”

Jenny Kwan, the NDP im­mi­gra­tion critic, said the gov­ern­ment needs to pro­vide more an­swers on how the ques­tion­naire was used.

“The num­ber of times some­one prays should have no bear­ing on their refugee sta­tus. That is not who we are,” she said.

Other ques­tions asked the ap­pli­cants to spec­ify their re­li­gion and “how of­ten” they prac­tice their re­li­gion.


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