NDP motion to allow keffiyehs in Ontario legislature fails

TORONTO — An NDP motion to allow keffiyehs to be worn in the Ontario legislature has failed as it did not receive unanimous consent after at least one member voted against it.

Premier Doug Ford and the opposition leaders have all called for Speaker Ted Arnott to reverse his decision to not allow the scarf in the legislature.

Arnott says the legislature has long tried to restrict wearing any clothing or item attempting to make an overtly political statement and he believes that at this moment in time the keffiyeh meets that definition.

A keffiyeh is a checkered scarf typically worn in Arab cultures that has come to symbolize solidarity with Palestinians.

Today before question period, Arnott said that while he made his decision "after considerable research and reflection," he would reverse it if that is the will of the house.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles put forward a motion for unanimous consent to acknowledge the keffiyeh is a culturally significant clothing item in Palestinian, Muslim and Arab communities and should be allowed in the house, but on a voice vote at least one person from the Progressive Conservative government’s side said no.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

The Canadian Press An NDP motion to allow keffiyehs to be worn in the Ontario legislature has failed as it did not receive unanimous consent after at least one member voted against it. Palestinian children hold up a large kaffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, as they participate in a march to commemorate  "Nakba", which is Arabic for catastrophe, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, May 17, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP−Tara Todras−Whitehill −−>

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