Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is M-103 good for Canada?

The Motion 103 (M-103) introduced by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid asking the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for “a-whole-of-government” approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including “Islamophobia” troubles me a great deal. First, Canada already has laws protecting religious rights and freedoms under the Charter, and laws against hate crimes.  Secondly, by singling out Islam for special political and legal protection as this motion does (no other religions are mentioned in the M-103) we are standing on the precipice of giving an elevated political preference and protection to one religious group above all others.


I am aghast that the Liberal government is seriously considering M-103 as though this motion is about preventing racism and not about seeking special protections for the religion of Islam.  In my opinion, Islamophobia is not caused by “systemic” racism in the Canadian population as M-103 describes.  I think Canadians in general, aware that we are all immigrants, or born of immigrants, if we are not First Nations, try hard to rid ourselves of racism. Waves of immigrants of different ethnicities have come to our country, and settled; Chinese, Irish, Italian, Africans, Mexicans, Americans; people of all races, colours and religions. Some have had more difficulty than others in settling.  Some give up and return to their native countries but most remain and become part of Canadian life and the Canadian work force regardless of the colour of their skins. 


Muslims who have come to Canada as refugees and more who will be coming, are composed of ethnic groups from all parts of the world.  Some Muslims are very fair skinned, some are dark. In my opinion, Islamophobia cannot be about race per se, that is, the color of one’s skin or country of origin.  For these very reasons Islamophobia is not called Arabophobia, Armenianophobia or Somaliophobia, terms which would identify ethnic groups from the Middle East and Africa. These terms would be signifiers of certain races.  If discrimination occurs because of race, then that is racism.  But M-103 is not about race.  It is about Muslims petitioning the Canadian government for political support and special protection for a particular religion in Canada.

This is a political act and not a right of religious freedom as they claim. Some Muslims bring the desire to live under Sharia law with them when they come to Canada, which they describe as religious laws, and therefore must be protected under Canadian laws.  With the Canadian Charter in mind, some Muslims object to the way their children are taught in Canadian public schools concerning sex education and even in music programs, and want concessions concerning the right for their children to be given special spaces and times to pray in public schools, which are secular schools. In a recent posting by the Toronto Sun, Anthony Furey writes that Turkish President Erdogan’s frequent use of the word “Islamophobia” is “weaponized language”, a language used for political purposes.  Calling any entity that objects to Erdogan’s own political aims as Islamophobia helps to ward off any criticism from the EU and any others who dare criticize his methods of governing. Let’s not go down that road.


Canadians have a right in my opinion, particularly women, to be fearful of our government’s readiness to elevate a misogynistic religion, or any major religion for that matter, as they are all misogynistic to one degree or another, to a special protection status by which “a-whole-of government” approach that would make any political criticism of Islamic policies  a criminal act. Canadian women have fought long and hard to come out from under the yoke of governmental misogyny from the time (1929) when women were not even considered “legal persons” in Canada in (which happened in my lifetime). Why is this motion (M-103) even under consideration? Is our desire to help people from war torn countries weakening our own country to the point where our own laws are being adversely affected?  Surely we can help and welcome the Muslim refugees without becoming victims of our own generosity.