In various discussions and emails over the past few weeks, I indicated some discomfort with M-103, the motion condemning Islamophobia.
It’s fairly usual for someone in my position to keep their thoughts to themselves, especially on an issue that might be controversial or represent a difficult decision. I chose to comment on M-103 because of a need to ‘work through’ and reconcile some conflicts I had on the matter. Doing that involved sharing thoughts and getting feedback on them while at the same time doing the kind of fact finding necessary to come to an appropriate decision.
I’ve done this, and I will be supporting M-103, wholeheartedly and with no reservations.
My main issue with the Motion was a technical one. Although it is inclusive of all ethnicities and religions, it appeared to some to single out one group, our Muslim community, for special consideration. However, that should be considered in light of how we have had similar motions in Parliament over the years that have specifically identified a group at risk; one of the more recent examples was a motion dealing specifically with Anti-Semitism that was adopted unanimously in the House of Commons on February, 24 2015.
My conversations and sharing of thoughts have revealed some fundamental misunderstandings among those expressing concerns. First and foremost, many believe this is a ‘bill’ – a piece of legislation that they see as challenging freedom of speech. It is not.
Most importantly, though, six people were very recently shot and killed because they were Muslims, showing that religious intolerance is an urgent reality in this country.
As a motion, it will ask a Standing Committee to study systemic racism and discrimination generally in Canada, to see what measures can be considered to make all communities safer and secure.
We have enjoyed a transparent, robust and ongoing dialogue in our riding. I get significant value in the ideas and reflections of everyone, regardless of their political leanings. Indeed, the letter in question resulted from a deliberate outreach to some in our community who have different perspectives and values.
I hope to maintain that dialogue going forward, with open and candid sharing of thoughts and opinions as all of us work through issues of all kinds. Some of them will not have ‘right or wrong’ answers, and all deserve a through, fair and unbiased airing.