I voted against Motion M-103 today. Here is why:
First, Islamophobia is a vague term that is not legally defined or understood. If it means the fear of Islam (a religion) then it probably isn’t legal, as criticism of religion is part of the rights defined by the Canadian constitution. Having vague terms that could have different meanings is dangerous in the context of creating new laws.
If the Liberals meant Muslim people living in Canada, then they should have changed the wording of the motion to make that clear. Attempts were made in good faith by my Conservative colleagues to provide alternate wording that would have allowed all parties to support this motion. The Liberals chose to reject these amendments.
When the Conservatives brought forward a motion with identical text, but expanded the list of religions to include all the major religions in Canada, the Liberals voted against this motion. Supporting special rights—including laws—to protect one religion is not something I could vote in favor of.
Second, even though this motion does not create a new law – it calls for the creation of new laws based on the committee’s recommendations, which I cannot support.
One of the liberties we enjoy as Canadians is free speech and open discussion on issues. It is a pillar of Canadian society that must be defended. It is also equally important to recognize that we need a Canada that does not promote a climate of hate, discrimination or fear for any and all people. This is why we have a right to freedom of speech as well as religious expression.
These are existing rights in Canadian law (including the right to be free from religious discrimination). The House of Commons should not be considering laws to protect one religion as the expense of the others, or at the expense of free speech.