Canada moved closer to approving an “Islamophobia” motion Wednesday night that critics say could stifle free speech and potentially criminalize any criticism of Muslim extremism or the implementation of Sharia law.
Ontario Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Iqra Khalid officially introduced Motion M-103 in the House of Commons Wednesday night for debate. It demands that Parliament “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and “condemn Islamophobia.”
Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch called it “politically correct nonsense” at a free speech rally in Toronto Wednesday night and told The Daily Caller on Thursday that the motion is “more politics from the Liberals and more political correctness.”
Only the official opposition Conservatives are standing against the motion, with the governing Liberals and left-wing New Democratic Party strongly supporting the legislation.
Saskatchewan MP David Anderson spoke against motion during Wednesday night’s debate. He said the term “Islamophobia” was too flexible a term and lacked any definition in the motion.
“It’s time we talked about these issues in much more mature terms,” he said. This word [‘Islamophobia’] is a conversation-stopper and it needs to be set aside.”
He is tabling a counter-motion on Thursday that 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.”
Though supporters of the motion have repeatedly called it “non-binding” because it is not a government bill, there is a ticking time bomb in the legislation; after receiving approval, Khalid is insisting that it be sent to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, where it can “undertake a study on how the government could develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia…” The committee would also be charged with collecting data on hate crimes and “present its findings and recommendations to the House [of Commons]…”
Ontario Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, one of her party’s top four leadership candidates, condemned the motion at a free speech rally held in Toronto. “It’s great to be in a room full of severely normal people,” she said to a tumultuous ovation. “We need to fight back against all of this politically correct nonsense,” said Leitch, who called-out Justin Trudeau’s enthusiastic support for the motion.
“Justin Trudeau says people who are opposed to M-103 are fringe,” said Leitch. “Justin Trudeau, you are fringe.”
Leitch reiterated that statement in conversation Thursday, saying “The Conservatives are proposing common-sense ideas about freedom of speech. There are legitimate concerns about this issue and they should not be dismissed by this government.”
In defending the motion, Liberal MP Arif Virani, a Muslim, ridiculed critics of the motion, especially those who say it would impair free speech or encourage Sharia law: “nothing could be further from the truth,” he said, without any hint that Sharia law might not be consistent with Canadian law.
Former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler agrees that the motion should not include any reference to the non-defined “Islamophobia” but should simply refer to “anti-Muslim” sentiment.
But Khalid has obdurately refused to consider any criticism of her legislation and says she won’t “water down” her motion.Khalid would not respond to repeated requests for an interview from The Daily Caller and did not respond to phone or email messages.
Canadian mainstream media are openly applauding the motion and passing off Khalid’s claims as decided truth. A National Post story reports that motion will “combat rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada,” while commentary from some “conservative” columnists is openly disdainful of the motion’s many critics: In the fevered imaginings of its online discussants, #M103 is decried as a bill that would forbid any criticism of Islam, if not the first step towards imposing Sharia law. I only wish I were exaggerating,” opines one.
Khalid’s motion, in the meantime, is expected to be voted on in early April.