Heritage minister rejects ‘cynical’ Conservative religious discrimination motion

A Conservative bid to remove the “Islamophobia” reference from the text to condemn religious discrimination is a “cynical” attempt to serve political purposes, Canada’s heritage minister said today.

“If we choose not to talk about it, it doesn’t just go away,” Mélanie Joly said in rejecting the bid.

The Liberal minister spoke at a media availability in Ottawa, the morning after MPs began debate on M-103, a motion tabled by Mississauga, Ont., Liberal MP Iqra Khalid in December 2016.

It calls on the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.” 

Saskatchewan Conservative MP David Anderson argued the word Islamophobia is undefined in M-103, and there is no consensus on what it means. Including the word has led to widespread confusion and fears about its impact on freedom of speech, he said.

His motion to counter M-103 removes the reference to Islamophobia and instead calls on government to “condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities.”

But Joly said there has been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims, and the motion must specifically mention Islamophobia.

“It’s a term we can’t be afraid to use,” she said.

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 Shariah law.

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