Canada's prime minister said he "profoundly disagrees" with a decision to allow Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs, and hinted that he would intervene if the rules are not changed, local press reports said Sunday.
According to the new voting provisions that were announced on Thursday, women can cover their faces for religious reasons as long as they present two identity documents or have another voter vouch for them.
"I profoundly disagree with the decision," Prime Minister Stephen Harper Harper said while at the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia, according to CBC News.
Harper said it was not up to Elections Canada – the government body that oversees elections – to set its own laws, hinting that parliament would intervene.
"The role of Elections Canada is…to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed, so I hope they will reconsider this decision," Harper said.
"But in the meantime, if that doesn't happen, Parliament will have to consider what actions it's going to take to make sure its intentions are put into place."
Already, a Member of Parliament from the province of Quebec has sent a letter to Elections Canada asking for the rules to be changed before by-elections scheduled for Sept. 17.
"If you have to show some identification, you have to be able to see if the face in the ID is the same as the people in front of you," said Bloc Québécois MP Pierre Paquette, adding that the changes contravene "the spirit of the law."
Elections Canada spokesman John Enright said voters wearing burqas or niqabs could either show their face to an election official, provide two pieces of recognized ID, or have a voter from the same district confirm their identity.
Veiled voters who only present one piece of government identification will have to show their face to confirm their identity.