Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag is standing behind his Liberal colleague, who is championing what has been dubbed the “Anti-Islamophobia Motion.”
When she tabled Motion-103 last December, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid (Mississauga-Erin Mills) called on the federal government to “condemn Islamophobia and work towards eliminating all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
Aldag said a “great deal of misinformation” has been circulated regarding M-103, and concerns have been raised about its implications on Canadians’ right to freedom of speech, and its emphasis on one particular religion.
“While I unequivocally uphold the value and absolute necessity of free speech in Canada, M-103 is not in any measure an infringement on this right,” Aldag said in a statement.
“This particular motion addresses rising anti-Islamic sentiment, and responds to dangerous and potentially violent undercurrents of thought amongst a slim minority of Canadians.”
Conservative MP Mark Warawa (Langley-Aldergrove) said a motion such as this should focus on discrimination against all faiths, and not solely on Islamophobia.
“The motion, unfortunately, has become quite political and partisan,” Warawa said.
“It focuses on Islamophobia, and it’s that narrow focus that has created so much concern.”
He went on to say, “I think it would be much better if there was a study on all forms of discrimination against a person’s faith. That is more balanced and more inclusive.”
Warawa said, because the motion is so “narrowly focused,” his office has been flooded with emails and phone calls expressing concern about M-103.
The Conservative MP noted that it was a mistake for the Liberal government to cancel the office of religious freedom and then to support a motion that just focuses on one faith.
“We need to condemn all forms of discrimination and hate against all religious faiths and not just one,” Warawa said.
For his part, Aldag pointed out that according to police reports, hate crimes, overall, are declining in Canada but have doubled against the Muslim community since 2012.
“Although it should be noted that this motion was tabled before the horrific attack in Quebec City, this tragic event reaffirms the need for us to take action on Islamophobia,” Aldag said.
He noted one piece of misinformation that has been circulated about M-103: that it would make criticizing religiously motivated violence a crime.
“Such an idea is categorically false,” Aldag said.
“This is because M-103 is a motion, not a bill. The distinction is that, while a passed bill does become law in Canada, a motion is a non-binding resolution in the House of Commons. What M-103 aims to accomplish is to condemn racist anti-Islamic sentiment and initiate a study in the Standing Committee on Heritage to explore ways to address the issue.”
Aldag added that this is not the first such motion to be debated in the House of Commons, many of which have passed, often by unanimous consent.
“Relevant examples would (include) a unanimously adopted motion condemning anti-Semitism in early 2015,” he said.
“In the same way that Canadians took a stand against hatred and violence perpetrated upon the Jewish community, M-103 decries similar acts carried out against our country’s Muslim population,” Aldag said in the statement.
“It in no way limits an individual’s right to freedom of speech or alters the Criminal Code of Canada. Just as we must condemn violence in all forms, so too must we extend this condemnation to violence carried out upon Muslim Canadians who are our neighbours, classmates, colleagues and friends.”
The Liberal government “firmly believes that diversity is our strength, and religious freedom is a value that Canadians hold dear,” Aldag stressed.
He believes M-103 calls for a “holistic way” of combatting hatred, fear and violence across Canada, and is a “victory not just for those targeted by these crimes, but for all of us who believe that Canada is made stronger by the diverse thoughts, opinions and faiths of all those who call this country home.”
However, the motion has led to numerous threats of violence, and even death, against Khalid.
• Kill her and be down (sic) with it. I agree, she is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.
• If I want to call a Muslim piece of (blank) terrorist, I will. Go back to your (blank) hole country where you came from (blank) hole.
• You’re a cultural Marxist. Inclusivity (blank) trying to ruin Canada.
Khalid said she’s received more than 50,000 responses to the motion and that many of them were “direct hate, direct discrimination and direct threats.”
“I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety,” she said. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so that they don’t hear the insults, threats and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”
– files from CTV