Canada’s new anti-Islamophobia bill receives mixed reactions
M-103 motion sparks protests across the country
By Bigoa Machar, Layout Editor
Earlier this month, the Liberal government motioned to debate new guidelines to help combat Islamophobia across the country. The motion, labelled M-103, is set up to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
In addition, the motion states its other goals include recognizing the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear, collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities.
The motion promises to present findings within 240 calendar days and request the heritage committee study how the government could develop a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.
Tabled by Ontario Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, the motion has drawn criticism across the country, with some people saying it puts a hinderance on free speech and favours one group of people over another.
During an early February parliament hearing, Khalid said that, “When I moved to Canada [as] a young girl trying to make this nation my home, some kids in school would yell as the pushed me. ‘Go home you Muslim!’ But I was home. I am one of thousands of Muslims that are victims of hate and fear,” says Khalid. “I am a proud Canadian, and one of hundreds of thousands that will not tolerate hate based on religion or skin colour. I rise with my fellow Canadians to reject and condemn Islamophobia.”
Over the first weekend of March, protests have broken out in almost every major city in Canada.
Reports of heavy police presence at town halls and squares in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary were called to deal with both protesters and counter-protesters on the issue.
In Calgary, dozens of people gathered outside city hall to voice their concern with motion M-103. Stephen Garvey, leader of the National Advancement Party of Canada says the motion impacts Canadian’s rights to freedom of speech.
“A growing number of Canadians feel we’re under threat from this anti-Islamophobia motion. We feel it’s going to far,” Garvey said to the Calgary crowd on Saturday. “This whole thing of Islamophobia is complete nonsense as far as we’re concerned. No religion, ideology or way of life should ever come before our freedom of speech.”
While no arrests have been made in Calgary, reports out of Toronto and Montreal say police have made arrests at the protests in their respective cities.
With the motion back up for debate in April, expect more Canadians to voice either their support or discontent with motion M-103.