Canada well positioned to become Islamic banking hub: report TORONTO - Islamic banking is being touted as the next big thing for Canada's financial services sector, but experts say it's up to the new federal government to demonstrate that it welcomes Shariah-compliant investments. "It's absolutely fundamental that the Canadian government signal that, in fact, it is open to Islamic finance," says Walid Hejazi, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. They could do so either by issuing sukuk - Islamic bonds - or by making a public statement, Hejazi says, noting that the previous government was on record as saying it welcomed such investments. "If there is a risk that a change in government is going to change its view on that kind of investment, that spooks investors," he said. "So the government must be clear to say . . . 'We're open to Islamic finance, we welcome it,"' Islamic finance - which bans interest payments and investments in gambling, pornography, weapons, alcohol, tobacco and pork - is a fast-growing niche in the financial services industry. A study released earlier this month by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance and Thomson Reuters says Canada has a number of advantages - including a growing Muslim population, a stable banking system and a favourable regulatory environment - that make it well positioned to become a North American hub for Islamic banking. "Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing kinds of finance in the world," said Janet Ecker, president and CEO of the TFSA.