Q & A Re: Motion M-103
Q: Who is the Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF)? A: We are a group of Canadians from many religious and ethnic communities. Many of us have long histories as human rights advocates. We believe in Canadian values and the rule of Canadian law. We believe in freedom of expression and support the equality rights of all Canadians.
Q: What is the problem with M-103? A: The term “Islamophobia” is not defined in the motion or in Canadian law. The MP who introduced the motion, Iqra Khalid, says that it refers to discrimination against Muslims. This understanding runs counter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) definition of “Islamophobia” as “an excessive fear against Islam and anything associable with Islam”. This definition is worrisome as “anything associable with Islam” would include Sharia slander laws that stand in opposition to Canadian traditions.
These Islamic anti-blasphemy codes have three consequences. One, they extend “hate” legislation beyond protecting the faith practitioner or individual as intended by Canadian human rights codes. Two, they embrace protecting the faith, doctrines and practices of Islam from criticism or scrutiny. Three, they would send a chill to reformers in the Muslim and other communities who in good conscience think about and want to protect rights of women, minorities, and children or those who think about and want to criticize the excesses of political Islam.
The fact that the OIC uses such a definition should be of grave concern to Canada. This 56-member state organization is the second largest in the world behind the United Nations itself. The OIC is the prime mover of United Nations’ efforts to pass resolutions that deal with international human rights and to which Canada is a signatory. It stands to reason that Canada will be expected to apply an understanding of the term that is in line with those of other nations.
In European jurisdictions the term “Islamophobia” has had the following impacts on the rule of law and democratic free speech:
In Britain, it has aided the introduction of Sharia courts that parallel the British legal system. These courts discriminate against woman appellants and deem their testimony to be valued at half of that of a man;
In Denmark, criticism of the “ideology of Islam” has been ruled a criminal offense with lawbreakers fined and sanctioned;
In France, a Jewish scholar was taken to task by the “Collective Against Islamophobia in France” for citing a survey of Muslim attitudes towards Jewish residents of Arab lands; and
In Sweden, a new law has been implemented to criminalize “anti-immigrant speech” on the internet.
Given the application of the term “Islamophobia” in other Western nations, the proponents of M-103 have credibility problems. They leave us with the impression that Islamophobia is the equivalent of anti-Semitism or anti-LGBTQ in promoting hatred of individuals from a specific group of people, namely Muslims. It is not.
Evidence from other jurisdictions that employ the term “Islamophobia” gives no assurance that “Islamophobia” will be used only to protect Muslims from discrimination. What is more likely is to supress criticism of Islam by moderate imams, the majority of secular Muslims, human rights advocates, and others as a religion or political ideology.
The confusion over this definition is the root of the problem.
Q: Is there really a problem for Muslims in Canada? A: MP Khalid is wrong ̶ Muslims aren't at risk. Existing statistics don't support the position that Muslims experience the greatest numbers of hate crimes. In fact, based on 2014 statistics, blacks experienced 238 incidents, Jews 213, those of non-heterosexual orientation 155, and Muslims 99 (even though there are three times as many Muslim Canadians as Jewish Canadians). Even though these 99 cases represent a “doubling” of the 45 cases experienced in 2012, such a variation in a Canadian Muslim population of over one million must be seen as insignificant.
Q: Isn’t the Quebec mosque attack indicative of the need to introduce measures that “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”? A: The attack is rightly condemned. It needs to be noted that, weeks and even months after the event, there is still no specific motive ascribed to its cause. Indeed, the alleged attacker appeared in court facing “six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder using a restricted firearm.” The fact that hate and terrorism charges were not levelled at that time speaks to the absence of “Islamophobic” factors. Rather, it seems more likely that the “hate” claimed by proponents of M-103 is politically motivated supposition. On a worrisome note, why is so little information being released on this internationally significant case of mass slaughter? Why is the media not reporting on this matter?
Q: What do we want? A: We want a motion that expresses strong opposition to prejudice, discrimination or violence against MEMBERS of ANY religion. Examples could include Muslims, Jews, Yazidis, Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians and others. But using the term Islamophobia, which is ill-defined in general usage but clearly defined by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to include both Muslims (the people) and Islam (the doctrine), is inappropriate, counterproductive and risks the curtailment of Canadian free speech rights.
Q: But I thought it is only a motion and has no legal effect! A: True, it’s “only” a motion, but historically many legislative efforts have started with private member’s motions or bills. However, legislation is only one of possible consequences. Others may be:
New definitions and reshaping of hate speech laws;
Suppression of public critiques of mut'ah marriage, honour killings, genital mutilation, gay and Christian bashing, and wife beating; and
Dozens of civil servants looking for solutions to problems that aren't there.
None of the above require legislation.
We have adequate protections now in law for religious freedoms and against hate speech. They should be enforced for all Canadians.
Q: How many Canadians are seriously perturbed or frightened by this motion?
A: An estimated 150,000 persons have signed one of four national anti M-103 petitions currently in circulation. This explosion of grassroots democracy has accelerated out of nowhere on the heels of M-103’s tabling in December, 2016. Canadians from across the country, from all walks of life, and from many different faiths, including Muslims, have come together to form our organization, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms, to oppose Motion M-103.
Q: Is Motion M-103 a first step to inhibiting free speech and promoting the Islamization of Canadian laws?
A: The fear is that the answer is Yes. In 2004, Ontario came within a breath of allowing the application of Sharia law in domestic affairs in Ontario . The Liberal Party asserts that the current federal motion is “non-binding”, “not a bill” and will not compromise freedom of speech. Yet it calls for a 240-day study by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage whose recommendations the “government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the…Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Liberal MP Raj Grewal, during the parliamentary debate of 16 February, 2017, stated, “One of the most important things about the motion that Canadians should understand is that it encourages a committee to collect data and to present that data in a contextualized manner so we, as members of Parliament elected to this chamber, can study it and propose laws.” It would indeed appear that the intent of using a “whole of government approach” in the case of M-103 includes the slippery slope to enabling legislation.
Q: The forerunner of M-103, “E”-petition 411, was passed unanimously by the House of Commons. Why should M-103 not be passed in a similar fashion now?
A: Petition “E”-411 was tabled on 26 October, 2016 with only 79 MPs in attendance and no public input or debate. The implications of the petition’s use of the term “Islamophobia”, as regards the potential for the curtailment of free speech, were not thought through. Emotional arguments ruled the day. It needs to be noted that, subsequent to the vote on “E”-411, the public did become engaged to the point that Motion M-103 met a rocky reception in Parliament during the related debates of 15/ 16 February, 2017.
Q: Does C3RF have a formal mission statement?
A: Yes - Canadian Citizens For Charter Rights And Freedoms (C3RF) is a group of Canadians who have come together to address Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid’s Motion M-103, a motion that stands to adversely impact the ability of Canadians to express themselves freely.
Members of the group come from many religious and ethnic communities and many have long histories as human rights advocates. The group supports the rule of law in accordance with Canadian traditions and strives to ensure freedom of expression and the equality rights of women and the LGBT community.
Motion M-103 flows from the House of Commons “E-411 (Islam)” petition and both documents call up the term, "Islamophobia". Motion M-103 goes further than the petition in that it levels the charge that everyday Canadians and their institutions are riddled with "systemic racism and religious discrimination". C3RF finds the use of the term “Islamophobia” confusing and alarming. Confusing in that it wrongly equates Islamophobia with anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, or anti LGBT hate speech. Alarming in that it is part of a well-funded Muslim Brotherhood public relations campaign to deflect legitimately founded criticism of Islamic extremists who seek to replace Canadian Law with sharia law, strike fear into the majority of Muslim leaders and clergy in Canada, and put a chill on legitimate criticism of political Islam. In the case of M-103, we are very concerned about the Liberal Party’s unwillingness to compromise on the use of the term “Islamophobia”. C3RF had hoped that the member would have accepted recommendations from various faith communities, free speech advocates, former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, the Conservative Party, the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue, and other groups to exclude the term and speak to the rights of all religious communities. MP Khalid’s assertion that “Islamophobia” is an “irrational fear of Muslims” stands in contrast to definitions offered up by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). These entities detail “Islamophobia” as the “unfounded fear…of Muslims and Islam.” These differences cry out to be discussed and clarified before an informed vote can be taken. The assertion that the motion is “non-binding”, “not a bill” and will not compromise freedom of speech is problematic given the fact that it calls for a 240-day study period that will conclude with recommendations that the “government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the… Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”