Government throws ‘strong and clear’ support behind anti-Islamophobia motion ahead of tonight’s debate

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says the federal government is throwing its “strong and clear support” behind Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s motion condemning Islamophobia.

Surrounded by a number of MPs in the foyer of the House of Commons, Joly said there is a need to counter all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada.

“There is no place for hatred and no tolerance of abuse,” she said.

MPs will begin debate on M-103, which was tabled by Khalid in December 2016 and calls on the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” at 5:30 p.m. ET today.

M-103 has generated much controversy on social media and through online petitions, with some erroneously calling it a “law” or a “bill” rather than a non-binding motion. Some have raised concerns that it could lead Canada on a path to Sharia law.

But Khalid insisted Wednesday her motion is much broader in scope than one single religion, and said she is glad it has created much dialogue across the country.

“We need to recognize that we have a problem and we need to tackle it head-on,” she said.

While the Liberals made a show of solidarity by assembling more than 50 MPs behind Joly and Khalid at the news conference, the Conservative caucus is not united in its position on the motion.

Several Conservative leadership candidates have spoken out against the motion, arguing that it could curtail free speech and that it singles out one religion for protection. Others have raised concerns that the motion does not define “Islamophobia.”

Leadership candidates Pierre Lemieux, Chris Alexander, Kellie Leitch and Brad Trost are all listed as participants at a “Freedom Rally” in Toronto to protest the motion organized by The Rebel, a right-wing news and commentary website.

Leadership contender Michael Chong said Tuesday he will support M-103, noting the House of Commons has denounced hatred against other groups, including Jews, Yazidis and Egyptian Coptic Christians.

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