Local MP supports M-103
By: Tom Rose, Staff Writer
Fresh off of Lakehead Orillia’s Healing Space event condemning Islamophobia on January 30th, students in the area can breathe a little easier knowing that local MP Bruce Stanton has given his support to a Liberal-initiated motion aimed at “protecting Muslims from hate and harm”. The Conservative MP stands strong in his convictions despite criticism from some constituents, who call the motion “an affront to Parliament”.
In an interview with Simcoe.com, Stanton spoke of the importance of trying to “inject at least a little reality into the situation”, noting that right-wing websites like The Rebel tend to engender the kind of “commentary that fuels the campaigns like Kellie Leitch and Donald Trump”. Acknowledging that much of the anti-Islamic sentiment he has heard, Stanton also points out that similar comments have come from constituents identifying with the centre or centre-left political ideology.
The motion, proposed by Mississauga-Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid, calls on the government to “condemn incidents of Islamophobia and other forms of systemic racism and discrimination towards religious groups”, and seems especially salient following last month’s fatal mosque shooting in Quebec. While critics decry the motion as an attempt to silence Canadians critical of Islam, Stanton insists that the motion does not in fact squash their concerns, but rather aims to keep folks from “[taking] the next step and [using] it in a way to incite violence”.
M-103, as the motion is known, is scheduled for a one-hour debate next Wednesday in the House of Commons. On the same day that Khalid tabled the motion, the CBC reports that an e-petition of nearly 70,000 signatures was tabled also asking the House of Commons to recognize that “extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam”. Khalid cited her experience as a “young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman” when she tabled the motion back in December, adding that as a “proud Canadian” she, and “hundreds of thousands of others…will not tolerate hate based on religion or skin colour”.
Simcoe North MP Stanton says he’s received a half dozen letters asking him to reconsider his support of the motion, citing concerns about freedom of speech. Stanton remains steadfast, however, insisting that “these are occasions where you really do want to weigh in and not do anything to incite that type of commentary any further”.
Though Khalid has declined to comment on the motion, pundits such as The Toronto Star’s Anthony Furey condemn the motion as focusing on a “catch-all phrase to silence anyone critical of religion”, specifically noting that “denouncing a radical imam for his Shariah advocacy could end up being considered…an Islamophobic act”. Whether the debate next Wednesday sees the motion passed could have long-standing consequences for Canadians of all religions, so I urge any of you with strong feelings either way to write to your MPs and ensure your voices are heard.