Liberals strongly back anti-Islamophobia bill
Motion calls for action against ‘climate of hate and fear’
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 nonbinding 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, 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.”
The Commons heritage committee would also be asked to study the issue and develop a strategy to tackle it.
A number of Conservative MPs 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.
Both Joly and Khalid insisted the motion would not touch on freedom of expression.
Khalid, a Muslim, said her own experience with Islamophobia over the past few weeks has convinced her to press ahead.
I along with some of my colleagues, have been the recipients of hateful comments. This strengthens my resolve to continue to combat this issue. MP Iqra Khalid
Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid is congratulated by colleagues as she makes an announcement about an anti-Islamophobia motion on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.