Drop word ‘Islamophobia’ from motion, says former minister
A Liberal-backed motion aimed at combating racism would have broader support if it didn’t contain the word “Islamophobia,” former justice minister Irwin Cotler argued Thursday as the Liberals and Conservatives butted heads over competing propositions.
But the Liberals stood firm in their support of the controversial motion, arguing publicly that removing that one word would water down the measure and diminish the fight against hatred and discrimination.
The motion, known as M-103, was debated Wednesday in the House of Commons amid controversy about fears expressed by a number of Conservative MPs, who say it could stifle legitimate debate about issues like sharia law and the niqab.
Mississauga Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who introduced the motion, was adamant that it point a finger directly at Islamophobia, telling the Commons that “words have impact.”
During debate later Wednesday, Khalid — saying Cotler had since pledged his full support for her motion — rose in the House to read off a profanity-laced litany of abuse she has received online since the controversy erupted.
“Although the hate was overwhelming, the messages of support were in the thousands,” she said.
Khalid’s motion calls on the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and condemn Islamophobia, as well as all other kinds of “systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
If approved, the Commons heritage committee would also be asked to study the issue and develop a strategy to tackle it.