This week, the House held its first hour of debate on Motion 103. I have received a lot of correspondence on this motion, and I am keen to dispel some of the myths circulating about this motion. I want to begin by sharing the actual text of the motion:
“That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and (c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Motions of the House have two purposes: they can be an expression of the House’s feeling on a matter, and/or an order to one of its Committees. This motion consists of both a condemnation of the ongoing systemic racism and religious discrimination faced by many Canadians (including those who practice Islam), as well as an order to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to study the issue and suggest mitigation measures to Government.
Nothing more, nothing less.
It may not seem like it accomplishes much. But as my colleague Joel Lightbound said in a compelling speech in the wake of the Quebec City shooting, “Words have consequences, but so does silence.”
This motion is a start. I am hopeful that the Committee can provide us with a path forward.
Myths are circulating that this motion will silence any criticism of Islam or other religions. Others believe the motion will lead to the implementation of Sharia law in Canada.
Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. I would be among the first to stand against any invalid attempts to restrict Canadians’ freedom of expression, and I would be among the first to stand against the imposition of any faith-based legal system in Canada. Our secular legal system, with a strong regime of rights and freedoms as encoded in the Charter, serves our incredibly diverse country very well.
The motion appropriately refers directly to Islamophobia, to hate crimes committed against Muslims, and to the e-petition condemning Islamophobia which has garnered almost 70,000 signatures across the country.
The question that comes to mind is this: when did condemning acts of hate become so controversial?
I am proud to support M-103. Systemic racism and religious discrimination have no place in our society. It’s time we take action to make that our reality.