Today, the House of Commons voted to approve Motion 103, and launch a Committee study into systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada. While it covers all races and religions, it mentions ‘Islamophobia’ due to a marked increase in the number of hate incidents directed at that community. Liberal and NDP MPs voted for M 103, as did a few Conservatives.
In spite of the killings of six Muslim men, murdered as they prayed in their Quebec City mosque, some people have voiced their opposition to me over the fact that Islamophobia was specifically mentioned.
Most of the comments were honest concerns about equitable treatment for all people facing hate and discrimination; others were concerned about preserving free speech, including the right to criticize Islam or any other religion. Still others believed that the motion was intended to abandon Canada’s secular legal system by allowing the introduction of Sharia Law into Canada.
Nothing that I’ve seen in the Motion and nothing that I’ve heard so far supports those concerns, but I will offer some advice on what to watch for to help those who still fear those outcomes. It revolves around what will happen during the study called for by M 103.
All eyes will turn to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, whose study will be according to the wording of the Motion:
- 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,
- 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.
Whether you are concerned about M 103 or simply interested, there is a simple way you can follow the Committee’s study. Every public meeting of the Committee will be recorded and you can listen to the questions being asked and the testimony of witnesses. I will let you know if any of the sessions will be televised.
The Committee’s web site is here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/CHPC and you will see the name of the study on the front page. To hear the day’s testimony, simply click on the name of the study, then the date of the meeting, and then the button that says ‘Listen on ParlVU’. If you click on the button that says ‘Blues’ you will find a printed transcript of that day’s hearing.
If you have your own comments to offer as the Committee does its work, feel free to send them to me. All of the Committee’s work will come back to Parliament and it will be up to the MP’s to vote on any actions proposed. I want my vote to be informed by your input.
Within 240 days, the Committee must issue its report to Parliament, and people will want to pay special attention to the recommendations because they will be the advice to Parliament on what to do. If you see something in the recommendations you don’t like, please email me with the details. As always, the email line is open: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please watch our Facebook page: Ken Hardie – MP, Fleetwood-Port Kells or our Twitter posts; @KenHardie for updates on the study process.