House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was islamophobia.

Topics

Oral Questions
Point of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Geoff Regan

There is no consent.

The usual Thursday question, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

February 16th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons please inform us of the business of the House for the rest of this week and for next.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North
Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue to debate the Conservative opposition motion. Tomorrow we will commence debate on Bill C-18 concerning Rouge Park. My hope is to finish third reading debate on Friday. If debate is not completed, we will call it again on Tuesday morning, with Bill C-23, preclearance, as a backup. We will continue with Bill C-23 debate on Wednesday and Friday as well.

I remind the House that we adopted a motion to have Monday sitting hours next Tuesday, February 21.

Finally, next Thursday, February 23, shall be an allotted day.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Bruce Stanton

When the House last took up debate on the question, the hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills had seven and a half minutes remaining in her time.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I forgot to mention earlier that I will be splitting my time with the member for Louis-Hébert.

Quoting, using my full name, this was said in a chilling YouTube video that was shared widely, and this is just the tip of the iceberg:

“[She], the terrorist, the terrorist sympathizer, the terror inducer, the disgusting human being, this little girl with very little intelligence, no personality, no strength in character, with no brave bone in her body. That idiot, that scum bag, The guys out there are not going to debate you. You are going to see what the uncivilized Canadians out there take exception to. I'm not going to help them shoot you. I'm just going to be there to film you on the ground crying. Ya, I'll be there writing the story with a big fat smile on my face. “Ha ha ha ha, [the member] got shot by a Canadian patriot”.

I have received more than 50,000 responses, many of which were direct hate, direct discrimination, and direct threats. I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me, as I now fear for their safety. I have asked them not to answer all phone calls, so they do not hear the insults, threats, and unbelievable amounts of hate shouted at them and myself.

Nonetheless, I am flattered to see that the Conservatives have decided to use one of their very limited opposition days to bring a full day of debate on this issue. Looking at this opposition motion, I agree with 98% of it. Why? Because I wrote it. I am appalled by the cynical divisive tactics on the Conservative side to try to start a fake frenzy around the word “Islamophobia”, instead of tackling the actual issue at hand, united with all other parliamentarians.

I would like to correct the record. I spoke to Professor Irwin Cotler, and he supports Motion No. 103 wholeheartedly. He had not even seen the Conservative motion until today.

lslamophobia is real. My family, friends, neighbours, fellow MPs, and Canadians across the country have faced lslamophobia. These are real stories, and real people are affected by it. It is not just an imaginary statistic. I am sickened that the party opposite has decided to deny comforting all those Canadians who feel vulnerable and attacked by taking the word “Islamophobia” out of this motion.

I would like to read some of the messages I have received: “No need to debate her. Simply remind her that she is merely a woman and she needs to sit the [blank] down and shut the [blank] up. She has to comply according to Sharia; kill her and be done with it; I agree she is here to kill us, she is sick and she needs to be deported; Real Canadians will rise up and get rid of the nasty muzzie stench in Ottawa they should all the [blank] back to your [blank] hole where you belong; We will burn down your mosque diaper 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; [Blank off] Pakistani tali-bani. go [blank] yourself and go back to your [blank] hole of a country where you [blank] come from ugly; If I want to call a Muslim a piece of [blank] terrorist I will. Go back to the [blank] hole country where you came from [blank] hole; So the little [blank] is whining about [blank]'go home you Muslim...You're not home [blanking] stupid sand [n word]. You're a cultural Marxist inclusivity [blank] trying to ruin Canada; [Blank] you gently with a chainsaw, you camel humping terrorist incubator [blank]; and shoot this [blank]”

Although the hate was overwhelming, the messages of hope and support were coming in the thousands. Allow me to read a couple of them.

One states, “These hateful comments just prove how much Islamophobia there is and why M 103 is needed. ...So grateful to all those who have shown support and want to end hate”.

Another one states:

Thank you for bringing forward a motion that defends all religions and races. This is the Canada I am so proud to call home. We are all immigrants. Some, like me, immigrated many generations ago and it is important to know that...our government, will stand up for what is a truly Canadian value. This is exactly what we need - to defend our citizens, permanent residents and refugees from lslamophobia and all religious and racial discrimination.

With all of that said, I will not be voting for this watered-down version of Motion No. 103. I will be working tirelessly to communicate what Motion No. 103 is about, which is to stand against all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for being brave enough to read some of those passages of horrific hate speech, which I think every member of the House of Commons, regardless what side of the House, condemns. In fact, in some cases, they would appear to violate Criminal Code provisions on hate speech, absolutely.

I appreciated the member taking my call to discuss her motion and the e-petition. While I am concerned that this issue has been politicized, perhaps the wider debate is a good one. It is good for us to have these debates in a country where debates can take place like this in our Commons, where free speech is embraced.

I got the sense during our conversation that the member understood some of the points I made. In her first reference to this issue at committee, when a witness talks about how this definition of Islamophobia could be taken in some countries to mean one thing and in regimes to mean another, is it not fair to say that there might be some concern about the term and that it does not then mean people are xenophobic or racist, but means we should have a talk about the term in the context of the debate today?

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, after I spoke to the member and upon reflection of the words we shared, I was disappointed that he wanted to ignore and denounce the signatures of over 69,000 Canadians who signed a petition to condemn Islamophobia and asked our government to take action on it. Could the member please respond to that?

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments, which clarify what some members have difficulty understanding. They tend to put on blinders or to get stuck on words, even though, according to the member's comments, it is obvious that Islamophobia exists in Canada.

I would like to know whether all the messages she received and the comments she just shared have strengthened her resolve to study this issue in the House or in a parliamentary committee in order to identify solutions.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was receiving all of these messages over the span of a number of weeks, it only strengthened my resolve. It helped me to understand the irony of it, that while Motion No. 103 sought to tackle issues of systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, the motion itself was highlighted by all these hateful comments against the Muslim community and myself, with the personal attacks and threats. It really strengthens my resolve.

I had hoped that we, as parliamentarians, could acknowledge an issue as it exists today, work on it together as a whole of government, and not use an issue that is so troubling, that exists in Canada to play divisive politics and fundraise off of the fear of Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also want to commend the member for her courage and advocacy for the things she believes. I also deplore the comments that she has read out.

I have a very specific question that would be worth the member answering. Why does she insist on characterizing the ask for clarity as a watering down? It is not a watering down to amend a motion to provide a definition. It is not a watering down for Canadians with legitimate concerns about knowing what we mean when we use this word to ask the member to provide a clear definition, not just verbally but in the context of the motion.

The motion we have actually has clarity to it. The member could amend her motion to add more clarity. Why is there an opposition to clarity and the constant characterization of that ask for clarity as somehow a watering down?

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, this has been a great debate on issues that the Muslim community really tackles on a daily basis, and has tackled for a number of years. However, it is not just about the Muslim community; it is about all Canadians.

In October of last year, I was happy to see the House unanimously condemn Islamophobia. Since then, nothing has shifted to what “Islamophobia” means. I find it very interesting that the members across the way are now using the definition of Islamophobia as the reason why they cannot stand up for the Muslim community, recognize the issue as it is today, and do the right thing.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Louis-Hébert
Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have never been any prouder to speak after one of my colleagues in the House, the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills. I commend her for her courage. She is an inspiration to me, and I think to a lot of people across the country.

It is with reluctance and regret that I take the floor today. Three weeks ago, on January 29, 2017, my community was the target of one of the worst hate crimes, one of the worst terrorist attacks in the history of our country, an attack specifically targeting our Muslim community in its most sacred place, the mosque.

The day after the attack, I was overwhelmed by great anger and profound sadness, a sadness I saw reflected in the eyes of the people in my community, of all faiths, all origins, all political allegiances.

Having seen the worst that mankind is capable of when people let hatred gnaw at and ultimately destroy them, I also saw all the beauty and all the goodness people are capable of when they offer their hand and seek out in others the humanity that unites them rather than the differences that separates them.

I saw it at the vigils where thousands of people came together in solidarity with the families of the victims and with the Muslim community. I saw it in the hundreds of messages of love and sympathy that were received. I can say that I was proud of my community, of Quebec City and of Louis-Hébert, of its people, who have class and heart and who are open people with resilient hearts, men and women of good will whom I saw and heard in my community and from coast to coast.

Inside me there sprouted a hope, a hope that to ignorance we would oppose knowledge, hope that to hatred we would oppose brotherhood, hope that consciences would awaken and rise up, hope above all that the tone might change and that we would finally turn the page on the politics of fear and division.

I realize today, however, in light of this debate about Motion No. 103 and of all the hate that my colleague has received, that the road ahead will be long and that, sadly, the destination remains uncertain.

I would like to rewind the tape a little bit, because whatever specifically caused January 29, whatever motivated this lost soul to act, it is to some extent irrelevant and immaterial; because we have had a problem with Islamophobia in this country long before that; because Canada is not immune to what we have observed in recent years around the western world; because I believe that we are an open and tolerant people. We too have these demons within our societies, and we must address them.

When a mosque gets burned in Peterborough, when a pig's head is thrown at the mosque's doorstep in my riding, when women wearing the hijab in Toronto get assaulted, when we see hate crimes diminish in Canada for all religions but double for Muslims, we have a problem that we must address. It is called Islamophobia, and the first thing we have to do is acknowledge it, because we cannot change what we do not acknowledge.

I believe that what we must do first is to ask ourselves how we got here. How did we let these demons grow and this ignorance, this fear, and too often this hatred take hold in the hearts of some?

When I was a kid, there were no Muslims where I grew up. There was my friend Rafik; there was my soccer coach Mr. Bougouss; there was my best friend's father Ammar; but they were just that, friends, neighbours, members of our community. Some I got along with, others I did not, just like anyone else. However, over the years, for some among us, they became Muslims through the lens of the prejudices that we have been fed.

Boy, have we been fed. We have been fed on social media, by some politicians, and by some in the media who have preyed on that fear with a passion, who have provided simple answers to very complex questions, who failed to say that Muslims are by far the first victims of terrorism, who have failed to say that those who commit senseless acts of terror in the name of Islam make a perversion of their faith and by no way, shape, or form represent Muslims, just like the shooter in Quebec City does not represent Quebeckers or Canadians.

If it is true that a tiny minority is trying to use the peaceful religion that is Islam for political purposes, by trying to force a confrontation of civilizations and thereby taking hostage the 1.6 billion peaceful Muslims of the world, it is also true that if we respond to their rhetoric of fear and division we risk losing what is best in Canada, namely our openness and our inclusiveness.

There is a path forward and it calls for all men and women of goodwill to speak up and to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of racism and religious discrimination. This is what Motion No. 103 is about.

It is not about free speech and does not even come close to restricting free speech. Two weeks ago, I said in the House that if words have consequences, so do silences. Well, here is a good opportunity to speak up, to correct the record, as some have done in the House across all party lines. Beyond that, I call on all members' higher selves, to tone the rhetoric down and to start writing a new chapter in our collective history.

As for the opposition motion that is before us today, I will be very honest: I am in agreement with every word. When I was younger and my mother was sick, my adoptive father was Jewish. I have Muslim friends and I am a Christian. Last year I discovered some Sikh colleagues who are ministers and MPs, of whom I am extremely fond.

Yes, we have to combat religious discrimination, of whatever sort. Yes, we have to combat discrimination full stop. However, I am deeply disappointed, for I clearly see signs of a great cynicism hiding behind this motion, and I think we can do much better. I think that we can do more than just play politics here.

I was born under the rose, in Toronto, and I was raised under the lily, in Quebec City. The linguistic and cultural duality that characterizes Canada is an intrinsic part of me. However, I also grew up in an apartment building in Sainte-Foy, alongside families of Romanian, Haitian, African, Brazilian, Arabic, Bosnian and of course Quebec origins. I had the chance to be around them every day.

Also part of me is the openness and inclusiveness that characterizes us, but that we cannot take for granted and have to fight for.

I will close by saying that something has definitely changed in me since January 29, 2017. From now on I care nothing for following trends, provided I am going in the right direction. I wish the same for all of my colleagues.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, again I want to say I have appreciated the opportunity we have had today to debate this topic. I really appreciate what we heard from the individual who presented this motion, and the anger and abuse that she has faced. I can also say that, with my private member's bill, I am aware of what that feels like to some extent. Perhaps that is a direction we need to go in, dealing with some of the opportunities individuals have to express statements like that, which should not be allowed because it is, in my view, criminal. I have heard over and over again that freedom of religion, of speech, and of expression are not on trial here.

I want to ask the member who just spoke very eloquently if he heard the member for Brampton North when she spoke today. She said:

Denouncing Islamophobia is not prohibiting respectful criticism of Islam or any other faith as that is allowed by our country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What is not acceptable is categorizing Islam as a religion of evil and violence, and painting all people of the faith with one brush.

Whether one agrees with that statement or not, there was a debate similar to our Munk debates, an Intelligence Squared debate titled “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” Two Muslims spoke for the motion. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a Muslim, and Douglas Murray, who is an atheist, spoke against it. That was—

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Bruce Stanton

Sorry, we are running out of time. We only have five minutes for questions and comments.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.