Muslims in the House: February 13-17

Motion No. 103
In a follow-up to the e-petition condemning Islamophobia in all its forms, which passed last fall, MP Iqra Khalid (Liberal) introduced Motion-103 in the House to denounce Islamophobic sentiment in Canada. MP Khalid introduced the motion that would have the government:

(a) Recognize the need to quell the increasing climate of hate and fear;
(b) Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.

The motion included a call for the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conduct a study on how the government could develop a national approach to address and eliminate “systematic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia" and to “collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and conduct needs assessments for impacted communities.” Under the motion, the Standing Committee would present its assessments and recommendations to the House.

Conservative Opposition to Motion No. 103 
Most Conservatives in the House oppose the use of the term “Islamophobia” in the motion. Their opposition to the term rests on the ambiguity in its definition, which had not been outlined in Motion-103. The Conservatives are requesting mentions of “Islamophobia” in the motion be replaced with “hatred against Muslims,” to avoid any impediments on freedom of speech. The Liberals have rejected the request to remove Islamophobia from the motion, claiming that a problem cannot be addressed “if we fail to call it by its true name.”

In response, MP David Anderson (Conservative) introduced an opposing motion that “racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination against all of Canada’s largest religious groups: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, and Hinuds.” The Conservatives argue that their motion is more inclusive as it names the major religious groups in Canada, and focuses on “the safety of the faithful” rather than on the faith itself.

The NDP have signaled that they would support both the Liberals' motion and Conservatives' motion, and encouraged the government to go beyond introducing a motion, suggesting that “motions are symbolic in nature” and do not “impose any legal obligation on the part of the government” to formally address the growing concerns of religious discrimination in Canada.

The Liberals' have rejected the Conservatives' motion, calling it a “watered-down version” of Motion-103.

President Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban 
On two occasions, MP Jenny Kwan (NDP) stood in the House and asked the Prime Minister to denounce Donald Trump’s immigration ban. The first instance occurred following the Prime Minister’s meeting with the U.S. President at the White House. MP Kwan believes that Canada “has a proud history of standing up to the U.S on issues of principle”, and that it is the Prime Minister’s duty to criticize policies that “are having a direct impact on Canadians.”

The second instance occurred during the debate on the Liberals' Motion-103. MP Kwan singled out Donald Trump in discussion of the motions as “one of the biggest promoters of Islamophobia right now.” She called on the Prime Minister to denounce Trump’s “racist immigration policies.”

Denunciation of Quebec Attack
A handful of MPs in the House made member statements this week to publicly denounce the attack on the Muslim community in Quebec City.

MP Darshan Singh Kang (Liberal) rose in solidarity with Canadian Muslims mourning the Quebec City attack. He spoke against hateful rhetoric targeting innocent Canadians, and encouraged Canadians to “visit a mosque, church, a temple, a synagogue, or another other place of worship [to] learn more about our fellow Canadians".

MP Matt Jeneroux (Conservative) stood in the House “to recognize the impact the Muslim community plays in our region of the country.” He denounced he attack in Quebec City and voiced his support for the “Muslim community in Edmonton, and across the world.”

MP Omar Alghabra (Liberal) recognized a Muslim Canadian, Mohamed Fakih, who provided assistance to the family of the victims in Quebec City, and acknowledged Mr. Fakih’s numerous generous contributions and support for initiatives in Canada.