Evidence of meeting #74 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was islamophobia.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Raymond de Souza  As an Individual
Peter Bhatti  Chairman, International Christian Voice
Jay Cameron  Barrister and Solicitor, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
Raheel Raza  President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you, Ms. Kwan. Sorry, I think the time is up, Ms. Raza, but you will have opportunities to answer.

Mr. Vandal for the Liberals, you have seven minutes, please.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Thank you very much for your presentation.

I would like to follow up on what Jenny Kwan was saying. I just want to make sure you understand, because I want a response from you. The motion reads:

(a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;

(b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of the House of Commons' petition e-411 and the issues raised by it....

You are aware that we're not just talking about hatred against Islam and Muslims. We're talking about all forms of hate. Indigenous, black, Jewish, ethnic—we are going to address all of it. Are you understanding that?

5:10 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I'm aware of that, but the motion does not mention the other communities by name. Why is only the Muslim community mentioned by name? That is my question and that, I think, is the entire focus here. It's not mentioned that we are going to look at racism against the Jewish, the LGBTQ, or the black communities. In the list of hatred against communities, there is also the white man, if you look at the statistics. It doesn't mention any of them by name.

Why are only Muslims mentioned by name? Are they the only community in Canada? Are they a special community? Are they a specific community? Are they an exclusive community? Is the racism against them any different from the racism against other communities? That is my question about the motion.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I'm trying hard to understand. Because Islamophobia is in the motion, you think the entire motion is no longer valid and, in fact, you think the motion is dangerous and could curtail free speech. Is that what you're...?

5:10 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I did not say the entire motion is invalid. I believe, though, that using the word “Islamophobia”—let me be very clear—in the motion will curtail free speech, because no other ethnic community or religious community is mentioned by name in the motion except Islamophobia. Who does Islamophobia deal with? Not Christians but Muslims. It's Islamophobia. It is first of all a coined term. The very term is problematic and challenging for me. Secondly, it's just that one community. That is my objection to the motion.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I understand. In a recent StatsCan report on police-reported hate crimes in Canada for 2016, one of the key findings is that police-reported crimes motivated by hate against Muslims increased by 61% from 2014 to 2015. That to me is alarming and continues a trend of an increasing number of anti-Muslim incidents that speaks to a broader problem of hate. I'm from Winnipeg. We have problems with hate involving indigenous groups in Winnipeg, first nation, Métis. There are problems of hate crimes against the black community in other parts of Canada, and I can go on and on.

What do we do, as leaders of the federal government embarking on this study, to try to stop the hate that's out there? What can we do to better address this issue?

5:10 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

As we have heard before, the idea of hate is an ideology, and it's a very difficult thing to either monitor or have laws against it. What it needs is better education, better interaction of communities, and better understanding of each other. I'm afraid the Muslim communities have not reached out the way they should have, because I'm part of that community and there needs to be a better dialogue.

I've just returned, by the way, yesterday, from Winnipeg. I know about the problems with the first nations there. I have addressed the Manitoba Teachers' Society and I have seen that these problems are huge, so why isn't the first nations issue mentioned? It's a huge challenge. Why isn't that mentioned in this motion?

We come back to M-103. If it says we must study discrimination and racism against all communities, we welcome that. But this is the issue, that it's not just Islamophobia or Muslims. It has to be a study of all kinds of discrimination.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I want to make sure you understand that the 61% increase is against the Muslim community.

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I do understand that.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

The Muslim community are the victims here.

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

Yes, and the Muslim community needs to also stand up and take charge of their own issues and look at the problem and decide what they need to do. They should reach out to the government for help, if they need to set up. They have not been awake at the wheel in dealing with this issue.

It's not the government's responsibility to babysit just one community. They need to have their own responsibilities.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Do you equate protecting groups against hate with babysitting?

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

No, but motion 103, with just one faith mentioned in it, is babysitting.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

It is babysitting.

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Do you have that opinion concerning indigenous people?

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

No. I believe that every community is lumped together. If all of Canada says that in Canada we as Canadians take up an issue against hate, racism, and bigotry against every community, then it makes sense to me. When it says “Islamophobia”, then there is a question there.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I have one minute left.

People have been calling my office about motion 103. They're worried about their freedom of speech being in peril. They're worried about sharia law coming into Canada. People have been calling the mover of the motion and threatening her life.

Hate—where is that all coming from?

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

We have hate laws in Canada, and it's a terrible thing, if people call and threaten someone. I know that because I have also received threats, so I understand.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

But my question is where is that all coming from? Why are people so concerned about this?

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I can't answer where it is coming from. I don't have a response to where it is coming from, but wherever it's coming from, it's not right and that has to be also dealt with. Obviously, as I said, racism and bigotry coming from anywhere should be looked at and should be taken care of. It's not specific to just one community.

September 27th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you, Ms. Raza.

We are at the end of this session. We're going to go to another round of five minutes, and I have people's names on the list.

I just as the chair want to take the opportunity, because I was here when we agreed, as you heard from Ms. Dabrusin.... This motion from the House was not sent with an order of reference. In other words, it did not say that we have to do everything there.

On a motion, this committee could have said we're not going to study it because we are not bound to, but this committee, made up of three political parties—I just want to put it in context—agreed to do it. We sat down, we looked at what we were going to do, and we set up the terms of reference and the themes. Everyone around here agreed to those themes.

The themes were clearly based on religious discrimination and all forms of systemic racism. Those were what we were dealing with. Collecting data was another one we are dealing with.

Basically, I really would like to see that you understand what we're actually studying. We're not following the motion word for word. We have defined as a committee what we're going to study and how we're going to study it, and we're not having to slavishly follow anything in this motion. I just wanted to point that out. We decided as a committee of three different political parties, one of which did not vote for the motion in the House, but we all felt that there was a need to talk about this and that we needed to look at how we deal with it.

I want to point out one last piece of the motion that nobody has mentioned. It says, “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.” That means section 2, which is religious freedoms, and section 15, which is hate or discrimination against minorities, etc.

I think we set these terms and that they're clear. I don't know that we are discussing one thing, which seems to be a focus here. We're talking about all forms. We clearly set those terms of reference. I just want to put the terms of reference of what this committee is studying on the table, so that when you have questions later on you may put them into that context, that we're not slavishly following the motion that was passed. I wanted you to know that.

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I appreciate that. I don't know the protocol here, but am I allowed to ask a question?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

No. I'm sorry. You're on the hot seat, Ms. Raza, and that's that.

5:15 p.m.

President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Raheel Raza

I'm used to it.