MPs dig in heels on Islamophobia debate
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017 11:11AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:04PM EST
Liberal MP Iqra Khalid says she won't vote for a Conservative anti-discrimination motion, calling it a watered-down version of her own Motion 103.
Earlier Thursday, Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said the government would oppose the Conservative motion, using language Khalid later echoed.
Khalid's Motion 103 had its first hour of debate Wednesday night, but has drawn significant criticism from those who fear it would limit their ability to speak freely against Islam.
Conservative MP David Anderson tabled a counter motion that is similar, but refers to condemning hatred against Muslims rather than using the word Islamophobia.
Speaking in the House, Khalid said her family, friends, neighbours and others have faced Islamophobia.
"These are real stories and real people are affected by it, not just an imaginary stat," she said.
"I am sickened that the party opposite have decided to deny comforting all these Canadians who feel vulnerable and attacked by taking Islamophobia out of this motion."
Montreal Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia questioned why the Conservatives oppose Khalid's motion, given the House passed a unanimous motion last fall condemning Islamophobia. All MPs in the House voted in favour of it, including the Conservatives.
"Why all of a sudden is it not appropriate to mention Islamophobia in a motion in this House?" he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair presented the motion for the House to echo the petition upon which Khalid based M-103. Mulcair's motion had the House "join the more than 69,742 Canadian supporters of House of Commons petition e-411 in condemning all forms of Islamophobia." The motion passed on Oct. 26.
No definition of Islamophobia
In an interview with Don Martin, host of CTV’s Power Play, Khalid said her office now has police guarding it.
"I have police officers sitting at my constituency office taking care of my staff because they're afraid of the threats that we've received, because of the hate that we've received," she said.
In the House, Anderson said he didn't think there was anything to disagree on with his motion.
"It's an opportunity today to talk about the challenges we face and to propose solutions to these very real issues," he said.
"We are not immune to extremism in Canada. Every person here in the House was appalled by the recent and senseless violent acts at a Quebec City mosque."
Anderson said one of the problems with Khalid's motion is that it doesn't define Islamophobia.
But when Liberal MP Anthony Housefather asked Anderson whether he would consider amending his motion to add the word along with a brief definition, Anderson refused. Housefather suggested defining it as "an irrational hatred or fear of Muslims."
"Would the member consider working with me this morning to find an amendment that make everyone in this House be willing to support this motion so we can have a unanimous motion?" Housefather asked.
"I hope the honourable member isn't being mischievous because my understanding is the Liberals have already come out and said that they're going to oppose the motion," Anderson responded.
"That actually is an issue that they're going to have to deal with over there. We're of one mind on this side."
Joly says police-reported hate crimes against Muslims doubled from 2012 to 2014, while overall hate crimes were falling. Statistics Canada reports there were 45 police-reported hate crimes against Muslims in 2012 and 99 in 2014. The Jewish community was harder hit, with 242 police-reported hate crimes in 2012 and 213 police-reported hate crimes in 2014.
MPs will spend much of Thursday debating the Conservative motion, but won't vote on it until next week. Khalid's motion will have a second hour of debate on April 5.