Montreal: New Canadians will have to remove any face coverings  such as the Islamic niqab or burqa while they take the oath of citizenship, the country's immigration minister said on Tuesday.

Jason Kenney said he's received complaints from lawmakers and citizenship judges who say it's difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.

Kenney said it's also a questi on of values. He said new Canadians should be taking the oath in view of their fellow citizens.

"This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality,"Kenney said.

Kenney said the oath of citizenship has to be done freely and openly and under equal conditions.

The location of the announcement was not without symbolism. The French-speaking province of Quebec has had debates over how much Canada should bend to accommodate newcomers.

(Agencies)