Inclusion Rather Than Division
February 23, 2017
I would publicly like to thank the many constituents who have taken the time to call and email me over the past couple of weeks in regard to Motion M-103.
The motion was tabled in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. To paraphrase, it calls on the House of Commons to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, and requests that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could develop an approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia in Canada.
As a parliamentarian, I am always concerned when anyone in Canada is attacked or verbally abused for practicing any faith or religion. I condemn, in the strongest of terms, all acts committed against religious communities in our country and abroad. That is why I supported the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom which was created by the previous Conservative Government. The Office had been at the forefront of the battle to protect freedom of religion and belief internationally, as well as to promote Canadian values of tolerance and pluralism. Sadly, the Liberal Government shut down the Office shortly after coming into power.
The concern I have with Motion M-103 is its inclusion of the term “Islamophobia.” While it is true that persons of the Muslim faith in Canada have experienced forms of prejudice and phobia, radical Islamic groups have also employed the term “Islamophobia” in an attempt to shut down or disparage any criticism of their ideology – an ideology which is contrary to the freedoms and values Canadians cherish.
Last week, the Conservative Caucus tabled a much more inclusive Opposition Day motion in the House of Commons which was voted on this past Tuesday. The motion condemns “systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities” as well as acknowledges the “enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Disappointingly, the Liberal majority in the House of Commons voted it down.
Unless Motion M-103 is substantially amended to include all religious communities and removes the term “Islamophobia,” I will vote against it.
Inclusion, rather than division, is a better way to go.