A Muslim Conservative supporter took to the floor of the federal Tory convention in Vancouver to accuse her party of unfairly targeting Muslims during the failed 2015 election campaign.
Urz Heer, who hails from the riding of Brampton South in the Toronto area, told Conservative Party executive director Dustin van Vugt that the party made her feel like an outsider.
The Tories came under fire during the 2015 campaign for vowing to ban people from wearing the niqab head covering during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies and for pledging to consider barring public servants from donning the same garb at work.
"This party worked actively and aggressively against my people," Ms. Heer said as some fellow Conservatives disputed what she was saying.
"It did," she said. "It didn't differentiate who Muslims were versus the enemy."
She said Conservative tactics spurred Muslims to vote against the Tories in the election, Ms. Heer said.
"For the first time I felt like I didn't belong here and this was my country," the Conservative delegate said.
Former Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne, also attending the Vancouver party convention, defended the campaign's conduct. The Tories also promised late in the campaign to set up a tip line so Canadians could report allegations of "barbaric cultural practices."
Ms. Byrne noted that Mr. Harper's announcement in early October last year that his government would consider a ban on niqabs in the public service followed a court decision on the headgear.
A day before the Conservative Leader's statement, the Federal Court of Appeal had rejected the Tory government's request that its ruling on the unlawfulness of barring the garb from citizenship ceremonies be put on hold while it sought leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
"In terms of the barbaric cultural practices or the niqab debate, the campaign had absolutely no choice but to speak on it, the [former] prime minister had choice but to speak because there was a court ruling midway through the campaign. It wasn't that it was a campaign choice. It was: we had to react to a court case," Ms. Byrne said.