Canadian Parliament passed M-103 Thursday, a controversial motion that was created to condemn all forms of systemic racism and discrimination but that also specifically noted “Islamophobia.”
Asad Syed, president of the White Rock Muslim Association, says the motion is “needed,” and shows the support and mindset of Canada’s leaders.
“We are living in a Canadian society, we don’t need any other law… There has to be a condemnation of Islamophobia and any form of systemic racism in the Canadian society,” Syed told Peace Arch News Tuesday.
“One side is saying that this is going towards making it a law, or making a way towards Sharia law, which is Islamic law. I think that’s totally not the case. They’re trying to say this is towards Sharia law, they are totally wrong.”
The motion sparked protests at city halls across the country from both sides of the debate.
All Liberal and NDP (and the lone Green and independent) MPs supported the motion, which passed 201-91. Two Conservative MPs also supported the motion.
South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts was not present for the vote. PAN attempted to get a comment from Watts on Monday, but legislative assistant Alla Drigola said she was unavailable for a phone interview because she had the flu.
Watts was in Surrey on the day of the vote for a scheduled, celebratory reception event for the Health and Technology District signing of an MOU with Israel’s Centre for Digital Innovation Negev, Drigola said.
Asked which way Watts would have voted on M-103, Drigola said “I don’t know,” adding that Watts was supportive of a “more inclusive” motion that was sponsored by the Conservatives.
Last month, motion M-103 raised questions – even among Liberal MPs – of why Islam gets particular mention while other religions do not. Watts at that time was critical of the wording.
“The Liberals, the NDP, certainly ourselves as Conservatives, would like to see that context broadened because it’s unacceptable to be targeted for your race, religion or beliefs. You should never be targeted,” Watts said.
Asked if the motion needs to be broadened beyond “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” Watts said no.
Fleetwood-Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie told Black Press last month that “the critique of the motion is fair comment because normally you don’t make a law to deal with one specific situation.”
However, he commented online on a PAN article Thursday saying that he voted for the motion “because in spite of its imperfections, what will actually result from its approval is needed.”
Hardie posted a link to a statement on his website where he addressed concerns about preserving free speech, including the right to criticize Islam or any other religion.
“Still others believe that the motion was intended to abandon Canada’s secular legal system by allowing the introduction of Sharia law into Canada,” the statement reads.
“Nothing that I’ve seen in the motion and nothing that I’ve heard so far supports those concerns.”