Mr. Speaker, Canada was founded on the principles of free speech, democracy, and the rule of law. There is no other principle more important to the functioning of a democratic society than freedom of expression. That is why this foundational principle must be protected and guarded.
However, there are lines that can be crossed. These lines are codified in Canada's criminal laws. The recent call by a student leader at McGill University to “punch a Zionist today” crosses that line. Such words are a call to violence, and as such, they are harmful to our society. They are based on hatred and incitement to violence against religious minorities.
Resorting to such thuggery is also usually the first sign of having lost the argument. In our democracy, we can debate ideas. We can have differing opinions. One thing we cannot do is threaten violence against our fellow Canadians.
I appreciate the fact that the individual responsible for these hateful words has offered an apology. Regardless, these words should be widely condemned by all of us for what they are, an unacceptable incitement to racial hatred and violence.