The Tories approach a point of no return and other commentary on M-103
2017/02/18 Leave a comment
Terry Glavin’s usual trenchant commentary:
During the debate on the motion in the House, Khalid said she defines Islamophobia as “the irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.” That’s perfectly fine, too, but what makes no sense was Khalid’s statement that she refused Conservative MP (and party leadership hopeful) Erin O’Toole’s offer to help win unanimous consent for her motion by tightening it up, because that would have meant “watering it down.”
In a parallel topsy-turviness, Joly has objected to David Anderson’s alternative motion, which replicates Khalid’s motion except for the ambiguous term Islamophobia, because it’s a “weakened and watered down version.”
It’s true to say, as Scott Reid does, that seemingly benign injunctions against “Islamophobia” have been put to the squalid purpose of placing the Muslim religion and the practices of authoritarian Islamic regimes off limits to criticism. But it’s also fair to say that “anti-Muslim bigotry” doesn’t sufficiently capture the full-throated paranoid lunacy animating the nutcase wing of the Conservative support base these days.
“Racism” doesn’t quite cover it. “Hatred” doesn’t quite get at it. Whatever term you like, it’s more than merely ironic that those who make the most hysterical claims about clandestine Islamic conspiracies at the centre of Justin Trudeau’s government are also the ones shouting the loudest that an irrational fear of Islam isn’t even a thing.
It’s not as though the Liberals are blameless in all this. They could have welcomed O’Toole’s efforts at reaching out to find a compromise, but they didn’t. And the Liberals do seem quite content to have the Conservatives squirming and chafing against the appearance that the reason they object to the term Islamophobia is that they themselves are Islamophobic, whatever that might mean. It is not as though it bothers the Liberals that the Conservatives are stuck with the crazy talk coming from several of the leadership candidates these days.
Trudeau may have given away more than he intended last week when he was confronted at a community meeting in Iqaluit about why he reneged on his electoral reform promises. Raising the spectre of proportional representation opening the door to “fringe” parties, Trudeau asked, rhetorically: “Do you think that Kellie Leitch should have her own party?”
Clearly, Trudeau doesn’t want that. For starters, it would mean decent Conservatives couldn’t be tarred so easily with the indecencies committed by the party’s fringe factions. It would mean bigot-baiting the Conservative Party would be that much harder to do. In the meantime, it’s up to the Conservatives to get themselves sorted, and after the sordid events of the past few days, their options are limited:
Isolate, quarantine, amputate or purge.
Campbell Clark in the Globe:
It’s one thing for MPs to say they oppose the motion. But it’s another to accept the bogus reasoning.
One is the slippery-slope argument. Mr. Levant is telling Canadians that once a Commons committee starts studying the vague notion of Islamophobia and what to do about it, they’re going to propose laws that make it illegal to criticize Islam, and restrict free speech.
The obvious weakness in that is that Motion M-103 doesn’t even ask the committee to propose laws, nor could it force them – let alone the kind that stifle free speech. If they ever did, MPs could vote against it then. And it still could not violate constitutional guarantees on free speech.
If Conservative objections really were about a vague term, some deal-making would be in order. There are arguments that in some countries the term has been used to refer to any criticism of Islam.
Of course, this motion calls for MPs to study it, so they could define it.
But Liberals were unwilling to compromise when the Conservatives asked them to change “Islamophobia” to “hatred for Muslims.”
But it’s not about the word. Ironically, it’s about fear.
All this began when Montreal-area MP Frank Baylis started a petition last year to assert that all Muslims should not be equated with a few extremists. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair later asked for unanimous consent for a motion condemning Islamophobia – and got it on his second attempt on Oct. 26.
Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen responded to Mr. Mulcair’s motion with her own, condemning religious discrimination.
Both were adopted. The word Islamophobia was fine for Conservatives then, before they got scared.
The contrary view, and the conflation of Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hate with free speech concerns, comes from Farzana Hassan in the Sun, who appears not to have understood what the motion covers and what it does not:
When we challenge a certain Islamic practice, we are careful to exclude the moderate majority and focus our attention on a small segment of the Muslim community. Yet some claim that even such discussion conflates the radicals with the moderates.
If Khalid believes such discussions include all Muslims, she is unwittingly admitting that all Muslims are indeed like the fundamentalists.
Khalid is mistaken if she believes any rational discussion on Islamic practice castigates all Muslims. She must understand that any well-intentioned and constructive discussion on a religious practice or ideology is a fundamental right of every Canadian.
There is no phobia of Islam in Canada. There is genuine resentment toward orthodox Islam. But it has little to do with the usual public discourse.
Some practices, whether we discuss them in public or not, are commonly known to be associated with orthodox Islam, such as polygamy, wife battery and ostracism of religious minorities.
It is up to moderate Muslims to distance themselves from these outrages as much as possible. So far no robust public challenge to such practices has emerged from moderate segments of the community.
Without such a grassroots challenge any social observer, professional or amateur, can form any opinion on orthodox Islam, whether positive or negative.
We know some Muslims are working to institute gender equality, and others are partners with the government in fighting terror. However, these efforts need to become the norm rather than the exception. Once this takes place, the world will automatically begin to see Muslims in positive light.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked about finding the right balance between protecting a religious minority and also protecting our Charter rights.
The answer to his dilemma is simple: Do not put the slightest dent in our right to free speech.
To balance this, the prime minister can take more measures to protect the security of all minorities with tighter law enforcement and stricter punishments for alleged offenders like Alexandre Bissonnette.
Lastly, an article on Iqra Khalid’s reading out the hateful emails and tweets she has received, providing proof of the validity of M-103 and its specific reference:
The Liberal MP who tabled an anti-Islamophobia motion says she has been inundated with hate mail and death threats.
Mississauga, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons today she received more than 50,000 emails in response to M-103, many of them with overt discrimination or direct threats.
“I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety,” she said. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so they don’t hear the threats, insults and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”
She described a “chilling” video posted on YouTube that called her a terrorist sympathizer and disgusting human being.
“‘I’m not going to help them shoot you, I’m going to be there to film you on the ground crying. Yeah, I’ll be there writing my story with a big fat smile on my face. Ha ha ha. The Member got shot by a Canadian patriot,'” she read, quoting from the video.
And that, she said, was just tip of the iceberg. Here are some other messages she received and read in the House:
- “Kill her and be done with it. I agree she is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.”
- “We will burn down your mosques, draper head Muslim.”
- “Why did Canadians let her in? Ship her back.”
- “Why don’t you get out of my country? You’re a disgusting piece of trash and you are definitely not wanted here by the majority of actual Canadians.”
Khalid said she has also received many messages of support.