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.