Dear Cloverdale - Langley City residents,
In recent weeks, much attention has been given to Ms. Iqra Khalid’s (Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Erin Mills) Private Members’ Motion. This motion concerns systemic racism and religious discrimination, and is otherwise known as the “Anti-Islamophobia Motion.” 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. This particular motion addresses rising anti-Islamic sentiment, and responds to dangerous and potentially violent undercurrents of thought amongst a slim minority of Canadians.
According to police reports, hate crimes 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.
A significant piece of misinformation that has been circulated about M-103 is that it would make criticizing religiously motivated violence a crime. Such an idea is categorically false. 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.
This is also 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 be a unanimously adopted motion condemning anti-Semitism in early 2015 and most notably on October 26 a motion condemning all forms of Islamophobia was unanimously adopted in the House of Commons and supported by members of all parties.
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. 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 Government of Canada firmly believes that diversity is our strength, and religious freedom is a value that Canadians hold dear. M-103 calls for a holistic way of combatting hatred, fear and violence across our country 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.
Member of Parliament
Cloverdale - Langley City