Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all New Democrats, I too would like to express our solidarity with the community affected by this act of terrorism. There can be no doubt that what happened in New Zealand was an act of terrorism.
We all, of course, denounce this act of terrorism. We all denounce Islamophobia, which is at the heart of what happened in New Zealand. Muslims, brothers and sisters, loved ones, friends and family going to a place of prayer, a place of reflection, a place where they sought to find some peace and respite from their days, a masjid, were killed in cold blood.
That attack reverberated across the world. Though it happened in Christchurch, New Zealand, the pain impacts all of us. It hurts here in Canada, where Muslim brothers and sisters, our friends, our close ones, people who work with us, are thinking about their own loved ones when they go to masjid, to prayer, and how much it hurts to know they are being targeted for who they are.
Of course, we denounce Islamophobia today. Of course, we denounce inflaming hatred against Muslims. However, we have to go further than that.
Of course we denounce hatred and discrimination, but we have to go further than that.
We know that hate knows no bounds. Once hate is allowed to grow, it consumes all in its path. Hate is like a fire. Once it is allowed to grow, it spreads, consuming everything. We have seen the impact of that hatred here in North America as well. African Americans attending a Baptist church in Texas were gunned down because of the colour of their skin. Sikhs in Wisconsin were attacked while meditating at a gurdwara. Here in Canada, in the city of Quebec, we saw the impact of Islamophobia. Anti-Semitism continues to impact people across the world. Therefore, it is not enough to just denounce Islamophobia; we also need to denounce all forms of hate.
However, to denounce hate is more than just calling out the acts; we have to go further. We must learn to do things differently, and ask ourselves a question: What are we willing to do to tackle hatred?
One of the things we have seen that is the root of hatred is fear. When fear is inflamed, when fear is allowed to grow, it creates a climate for hate to grow. We think about one of the earliest fears we all have, which is fear of the unknown. That fear is very real. When someone does not know about someone else, when we do not know where people come from, when we do not know what their values are or who they are, there are often folks who will use that unknown to create fear, and that fear can develop into hatred.
We know that language and policies can also dehumanize our fellow human beings, and this dehumanization can result in fear that leads to hatred, so we need to call out language that specifically dehumanizes people. The language of calling someone “illegal” dehumanizes the worth and value of another human being. When we use words like “barbaric” to describe another human being, again the purpose is to dehumanize, and then, once we dehumanize, it leads to fear and hatred. Also, when we refer to immigration as “a threat”, that again creates the climate for fear, and that climate for fear can be used to create hatred. We know that words can fuel white supremacy. Words can fuel hatred. We have to call out those words and call out those policies.
However, beyond all of that, we know there is another way that fear is allowed to grow, and that is in the fear and worry that everyday Canadians feel every day. There are far too many Canadians, far too many people living in our country, who live in fear of the future. They are worried about whether their job will pay enough to build a life for themselves and their family. Far too many Canadians are worried about whether they can pay their bills, whether they can find a place to live. They are uncertain about their own future, so we can imagine how fearful they are for the future for their kids. There are some folks who will use that fear and that uncertainty to create divisions and to pit one group against another to divide us. The fear that is created can then be used to create hatred.
We must have the courage to step up and do things differently so we can change society.
Therefore, let us have the courage not just to call out the language, but let us go further. First, we know that right now our Muslim brothers and sisters are hurting, so I ask everyone to reach out to their friends, to reach out to the people they know and ask them if they are all right, because people are hurting right now.
Beyond that, let us reach out to people we do not know about. Let us open our hearts and replace the ignorance and the lack of knowledge with understanding, which will create the climate for compassion so that we care for one another. Let us not only call out policies and words, but let us replace those words and policies with policies that unite us, that bring us together. Let us be conscious of the words we use so we never create any ground for hate to grow.
Let us unrig the system. When I talked about the system that creates this fear and worry for the future when people cannot find a good job, it is a system that has been rigged to ensure that more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. It is a system that frustrates everyday people who work harder and harder and cannot get ahead. Let us unrig that system so that everyone can realize his or her dreams and so that everyone can see his or her own potential realized and actualized. Let us build a system of shared prosperity—prosperity for the many, not the few, a system wherein everyone can achieve what he or she wants.
If we want to tackle hate, we have to go further than just tackling Islamophobia. We have to go further than just tackling anti-Semitism. We have to tackle all forms of hate, whether it is based on gender, on identity, on ethnicity or on immigration status. Whatever it is, we must denounce all forms of hatred and we must remove all the conditions that create fear, all the conditions that allow for fear to grow and for hatred to take hold.
That is what we need to do if we want to pay true tribute to those who have lost their lives, and that is what we can do to build not only a better Canada but a better world.