OTTAWA (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Canadian Parliament has passed a non-binding motion with the potential to criminalize so called Islamophobia. Liberal Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, a Pakistani-born immigrant to Canada, authored the motion, called M-103. The motion passed 201–91 Thursday largely along party lines.
Part of the controversy surrounding the motion is the exclusive language singling out Islam for protection while leaving out other religions.
Conservative Party MP David Anderson previously tried to amend the motion to rectify the undefined "Islamophobia" with language that included Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The amendment failed to pass. Khalid is on video refusing to answer the press' questions regarding why language defining Islamophobia wasn't included in the motion. The motion, tabled last fall, gained more attention following the shooting at a Quebec mosque in January.
The motion is strongly supported by the Liberal government headed by Catholic Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau drew attention last September after visiting a sex-segregated mosque. He has also encouraged Muslim Canadians to run for office in opposition political parties, saying, "I'd like to see more Canadians of diverse backgrounds engaging with parties that line up with their convictions and ideologies to make sure that no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians or any other group of Canadians and demonize them."
Multiple petitions receiving tens of thousand of signatures have cropped up on Parliament's website and elsewhere in opposition to the anti-Islamophobia motion. A national poll conducted by Forum Research revealed that Canadians overwhelmingly disfavor the motion, with only 14 percent responding that the bill should be left as is.
The motion raises concerns about religious liberty, especially given the history of actions against Christians on the part of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. If M-103 eventually becomes law, it remains to be seen how the Canadian Supreme Court will apply the bill with its vague language given its previous ruling against Bill Whatcott.
Whatcott was a Christian investigated by the Human Rights Commission for distributing literature against homosexuality. Whatcott was found guilty of discrimination and ordered by the Court to pay the Commission's legal fees as well as $7,500 in damages to a gay couple he offended.
Concerns are that a national law against undefined "Islamophobia" will be a blunt new weapon in the hands of the Commission and the courts. The Catholic Civil Rights League, a Canadian lay anti-defamation organization, published an editorial in February which stated in part: "The motivation of the motion is suggestive of inclusion of 'Islamophobia' into a hate crime, when legitimate concerns over mainstream or extreme aspects of Islam should be open to debate, and not subjected to some creeping observance of sharia law, which forbids criticism of Islam."
Canada has settled more than 40,000 Syrian refugees as of January 2017. That is more than several countries in Europe. In 2011 the National Household Survey reported that the Muslim population in Canada had surpassed one million. The same survey also showed that the percentage of Catholics as a share of the Canadian population had declined since 2001 from 43 percent to 38 percent. Islam came in at the top of the religious growth rankings with a 72-percent increase. Catholics in Canada saw a slight decrease of 0.5 percent. Although Muslims make up 3.2 percent of the Canadian population, the median age of Canadian Muslims is 28, while the median age of Canadian Catholics is 42.