March 28, 2017

Update on motion M-103

Canadians value the rights and freedoms guaranteed to them in our free and democratic society – rights like freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Our country’s continued strength and stability is dependent on our shared commitment to safeguard these rights.

On March 23, 2017, the House of Commons voted on M-103, a controversial private member’s motion introduced by Iqra Khalid, Liberal Member of Parliament for Mississauga – Erin Mills.

This motion passed.

I voted against M-103, you can see the recorded vote here.

I came to this decision after careful examination of the text of the motion and after considering the concerns raised by the vast majority of my constituents who reached out to me on the topic.

I had supported an earlier Conservative motion that was more inclusive. It condemned racism and discrimination towards Muslims and all religious groups. It’s curious that the Liberals played politics by not supporting that earlier motion.

The Liberal motion M-103 reads:

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.

This motion singles out Islam without reaffirming religious freedom for all faith groups.

It also focuses on a controversial term – Islamophobia – without defining it.

This raises a genuine concern that this motion could be a first step towards restricting legitimate freedom of speech and shut down reasonable debate rather than encourage it.

I strongly condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination against any religious community.

Unfortunately, any attempts to amend the wording of this motion were rejected.

That’s why David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills – Grasslands, introduced a similar motion on our Conservative Opposition day, which I supported and the Liberals rejected.

That motion reads:

That the House: (a) recognize that Canadian society is not immune to the climate of hate and fear exemplified by the recent and senseless violent acts at a Quebec City mosque; (b) condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities; and (c) instruct the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating all types of discrimination 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 report 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.

It’s unfortunate that despite the support of all other parties, the Liberals voted against this motion and defeated it.

Every Canadian has the right to religious freedom – to be able practice their faith without fear of intimidation, coercion or violence.

Freedom of expression – so long as it isn’t violent or threatening – is also a sacred right.

As the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach, I’m committed to protecting these rights.  

It’s my sincere hope that any dialogue and studies in response to M-103 will be inclusive and protect all the rights that we value as Canadians.

© Library of Parliament

© Library of Parliament


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