Lib­eral gov­ern­ment back­ing con­tro­ver­sial mo­tion on con­demn­ing Is­lam­o­pho­bia

Medicine Hat News - - NATION -

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is com­ing out strongly in favour of a mo­tion to con­demn Is­lam­o­pho­bia and all other forms of racism and re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Her­itage Min­is­ter Melanie Joly said pass­ing the non-bind­ing mo­tion would send a strong mes­sage about dis­crim­i­na­tion against the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly in light of the re­cent deadly at­tack on a mosque in Que­bec City.

“We over­whelm­ingly re­ject the pol­i­tics of racism and ex­clu­sion,” Joly said Wed­nes­day out­side the House of Com­mons.

She was sur­rounded by Lib­eral MPs — in­clud­ing sev­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters — as a strong show of sup­port, and a sig­nal of her con­fi­dence that de­spite this be­ing a free vote, there would not be any­one in the Lib­eral cau­cus who is ex­pected to stand against it.

“Our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to build­ing a di­verse, in­clu­sive and wel­com­ing so­ci­ety that pro­motes re­spect for all, re­gard­less of faith, race or eth­nic­ity.”

The pri­vate mem­ber’s mo­tion, put for­ward by Lib­eral MP Iqra Khalid, was to be de­bated in the House of Com­mons later Wed­nes­day.

It 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 the mo­tion, known as M-103, is passed, the Com­mons her­itage com­mit­tee would also be asked to study the is­sue and de­velop a strat­egy to tackle it.

A num­ber of Con­ser­va­tive MPs — in­clud­ing lead­er­ship con­tes­tants — have called for the mo­tion to be more in­clu­sive, warn­ing it risks sti­fling free­dom of ex­pres­sion by pre­vent­ing crit­i­cism of el­e­ments of Is­lam or Mus­lim cul­ture, such as the face-cov­er­ing veil known as the niqab.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Lisa Raitt, who is a lead­er­ship can­di­date, said she un­der­stands the mo­tion is non-bind­ing, but added she has been hear­ing from con­stituents and oth­ers who fear that it could one day lead to lim­its on free speech.

“They’re wor­ried about whether or not they’re go­ing to be able to say cer­tain things about, for ex­am­ple, sharia law, or crit­i­cize fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion,” Raitt said.

She said she would be more sup­port­ive of hav­ing a com­mit­tee study racism and re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion with­out the way things are worded in the mo­tion.

Both Joly and Khalid in­sisted the mo­tion would not touch on free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

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