Bill M-103 raises many new ques­tions

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION -

RE: Rose­mary Gan­ley’s col­umn “New Words for a new, tur­bu­lent world,” Feb. 9, 2017

So Rose­mary Gan­ley is de­lighted to find a new word with which to in­sult me and my faith: “Christo-fas­cist.” I could be writ­ing to com­plain that she has no right to of­fend me based on my re­li­gion. How­ever, I am writ­ing to say how thank­ful I am to live in a coun­try where Ms. Gan­ley has the right to free speech. We are all legally al­lowed to ques­tion and de­bate each other’s world views.

What scares me much more than Ms. Gan­ley’s ver­bal at­tack is the Lib­eral mo­tion M-103. Among other vague rec­om­men­da­tions, this mo­tion asks the gov­ern­ment to “quell ... the pub­lic cli­mate of hate and fear ... con­demn Is­lam­o­pho­bia and all forms of sys­temic racism and re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion ...” This sounds noble, ex­cept for two main prob­lems:

1. Only “Is­lam­o­pho­bia” is listed specif­i­cally, with no at­tempt to men­tion any of the other myr­iad re­li­gious and racial groups in Canada that ex­pe­ri­ence hate­ful words and ac­tions. (Ms. Gan­ley’s lat­est col­umn is a com­mon ex­am­ple.) Why do we need a new law en­shrin­ing one re­li­gion above all oth­ers? We are all legally pro­tected by our rights as Cana­dian cit­i­zens and th­ese ex­ist­ing laws sim­ply need to be en­forced with fair­ness and con­sis­tency.

2. M-103 does not de­fine “Is­lam­o­pho­bia” or spec­ify what con­sti­tutes a hate crime. It is naive to as­sume that it will al­ways mean the ob­vi­ous, such as phys­i­cal at­tacks and set­ting fire to mosques. But such ac­tions are al­ready il­le­gal, so to which new crimes does this mo­tion re­fer? How soon be­fore it in­cludes even the ver­bal crit­i­cism of Is­lam, which rad­i­cal Is­lamists con­sider a crime? If a colum­nist makes them feel “hated” based on their re­li­gion, will that be a crime? Do you think this couldn’t pos­si­bly hap­pen in Canada? The only thing pro­tect­ing us right now is our long-stand­ing le­gal right to free speech, which this mo­tion un­der­mines.

While I do wish that Ms. Gan­ley would ex­press her opin­ion in a more re­spect­ful man­ner and lay aside the name-call­ing, I can han­dle my feel­ings be­ing hurt be­cause it means that she and I are both free to “ob­serve, judge and act,” as she says she does. No sin­gle re­li­gious group is legally priv­i­leged above all oth­ers, or in­su­lated from this demo­cratic de­bate.

All Cana­di­ans should ask our MPs to vote against Mo­tion 103.

El­iz­a­beth Doucette Olym­pus Ave.

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