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"Stay the Hell Where You Came From": Canadian Politician to Women Who Want to Wear Niqabs at Citizenship Ceremonies

Believe it or not, a pro-gun Tory MP made some bigoted comments on a radio show.

by Ben Makuch
19 March 2015, 6:54am

Conservative MP Larry Miller. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.

With fresh national debates in Canada surrounding not only anti-terror legislation, but latent Islamophobia, the Tory government is promoting (if Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is to be believed), one Conservative Member of Parliament who came out swinging against women who wear niqabs.

"Stay the hell where you came from," said Larry Miller, the Tory representative to parliament for the Ontario district of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, on a local radio show amidst lines like "send 'em back" peppered in from another guest.

Miller's comments came during discussions about the latest niqab controversy. Tory legislation from 2011 required all would-be Canadian citizens taking the oath to show their faces while swearing their allegiance to Queen and country.

One Muslim woman who wears the face-covering niqab challenged that piece of legislation in the courts and won—an outcome that apparently left Miller dumbfounded.

"It just baffles me," says Miller on the broadcast before blaming our "justice people" for the blunder. "[T]hat isn't right and you know like frankly, if you, if you're not willing to show your face in a um, the ceremony, that you're joining the best country in the world."

Miller goes on to say that he believes most Canadians would agree with his analysis of the court ruling: "that's maybe saying it a little harshly, but it's the way I feel. I'm so sick and tired of, of people wanting to come here because they know it's a good country and then they want to change things before they even really officially become a Canadian."

Though brazen and confident on the airwaves, in a statement provided to VICE Canada this morning by Miller's assistant, the Owen Sound MP apologized for his behavior on the radio show.

"Yesterday I made comments on a radio show that I recognize were inappropriate," he said, while refusing to retract his overall stance on the niqab debate. "I stand by my view that anyone being sworn in as a new citizen of our country must uncover their face. However, I apologize for and retract my comments that went beyond this."

The Conservatives slightly distanced themselves from the comment Tuesday, saying only that it was "inappropriate" and went beyond their "clear position" and Miller has apologized.

"We believe most Canadians, including new Canadians, would find it offensive that someone would cover their face at the very moment they want to join the Canadian family," Harper spokesperson Carl Vallee said in a statement.

Miller, a backbencher MP from a rural area, is the second Conservative parliamentarian in as many weeks to go off the party script and make inflammatory, racist comments in public.

Just last week John Williamson, who represents a New Brunswick riding and is the former communications director for Stephen Harper, said at a conference in Ottawa that it didn't make sense for companies to turn to foreign "brown people" for employment, while "whities" stay at home.

Miller is also no stranger to controversy. An outspoken pro-gun advocate, in a 2012 debate he likened the long gun registry to oppressive actions taken by Adolf Hitler in 1939. Miller was forced to backtrack on those comments days later.

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