Religious Discrimination Motion: EFC Response

27 March 2017

[Post dated 14 Feb 2017, updated 27 Mar 2017]

The EFC has been tracking private member’s motion M-103, introduced in December by MP Iqra Khalid. The motion passed on March 23, 2017.

This private member’s motion asked:

  1. the House of Commons to condemn systemic racism and religious discrimination, and
  2. for the Heritage Committee to study how to reduce and eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination.

The motion asks the committee to make recommendations on how to do those things and how to collect data on hate crimes against religious communities. It is important to note that M-103 is not a new law, nor does it propose any law that would criminalize speech.

Motion M-103 proposes a study of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada. The EFC supports discussions on reducing racism and discrimination on the basis of religion. This could lead to constructive discussions about reducing religious discrimination against Christians and faith-based institutions, such as Trinity Western University’s law school or doctors who are conscientious objectors to ending the lives of their patients. However, we are concerned that the motion only specifically names one faith.

This motion uses the vague, undefined term Islamophobia to address valid concerns about discrimination against Canada’s Muslim community. The EFC condemned and denounced the violence against the Muslim community at the Centre cultural islamique du Québec last month, and denounces hatred and violence toward any community. We are committed to strive for tolerance and respect for all. However, we are concerned that the term Islamophobia is vague and undefined. This term is also unnecessary, as the motion already addresses discrimination on the basis of religion.

The removal or definition of the term Islamophobia would have improved motion M-103 and could have allayed concerns about freedom of speech.

Now that this motion has passed, the EFC is considering requesting to appear before the Committee to raise any concerns.

If you have concerns about this motion, communicate them to your MP. Let your MP know you would have liked the term Islamophobia to be removed from the motion or, at a minimum, clearly defined. Ask for assurance that this initiative will not limit free speech. You can find your MP’s name and contact information here.

In any contact with your MP, remember to be gracious and respectful. Pray for wisdom for your MP and for the government. Pray for the good of our nation.

Motion M-103

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:

  1. recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;
  2. condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and
  3. request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could
    1. develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,
    2. collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.