Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 16, 2017
Liberal MP’s anti-Islamophobia motion set for debate on Wednesday
Members of Parliament will debate a motion to condemn Islamophobia and track incidents of hate crime against Muslims in the House of Commons next week.
Motion 103 was tabled by Mississauga, Ont., Liberal backbencher Iqra Khalid last fall, but will be discussed in the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. It calls on government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
The text of the motion also asks the government to:
- Recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.
- Request the heritage committee study how the government could develop a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.
- Collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities and present findings within 240 calendar days.
The motion, scheduled for one hour of debate on Wednesday, has generated a backlash online, with petitions garnering thousands of signatures opposing the motion.
Some critics have mischaracterized M-103 as a “bill” or a “law” rather than an non-binding motion.
Some have warned that Canada is moving towards criminalizing Islamophobia or even to the implementation of Islamic law, called Shariah, in Canada.
Barbara Kay, a columnist for the National Post and contributor to The Rebel Media, said she worries about M-103’s potential impact on freedom of expression and special protections for a single religious group.
“There are a lot of countries in Europe where criticism of Islam, even if not entrenched in law as a hate crime, are being interpreted by police and law enforcement, social workers — the whole spectrum of the state apparatus. They have been internalized by those within the public service as wrong, and if not criminal then absolutely morally wrong, and therefore Muslims are a group that must be protected from this very offensive speech,” she said in an interview with CBC.
Kay said anti-hate speech laws have traditionally targeted human beings, not ideas. She questioned the need to single out Islamophobia, and argued there are more hate crimes against Jews than Muslims in Canada. (Source: CBC News)