Did you know that the Trudeau government is considering action that would limit free speech, give special status to one religion above others and open the door to Sharia law in Canada?
Don't feel badly if you missed this. It's not true. It's fake news. That's the toxic spin some Conservative leadership candidates, commentators and pundits are putting on the motion debated in Parliament last night. Motion M-103, being put forward by Mississauga MP Iqra Khalid, calls on the government to "recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear."
To listen to the dog whistle critics, you would think the government is voting on a law. It is not. A motion is not a bill. A bill has to go through several stages including Senate approval before it becomes law. A motion is debated and voted upon by Parliament. It gives parliamentarians a chance to express an opinion on a subject. It is not binding. It does not become law. Once it has been debated and voted upon, a motion receives no further consideration from the House.
Another thing the critics claim is that the motion is unfair because it mentions Islamophobia but not other religions. Not quite. It asks the government to "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination." And this wouldn't be the first time Parliament has agreed to condemn hatred against a specific religion or ethnic group. It did so concerning Egyptian Coptic Christians, Jews and Yazidis. Why is there such a conservative outcry because Islamophobia is mentioned?
Do the critics really believe it is wrong to single out bigotry against Islam only weeks after the mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque? Have other religions recently suffered through the murder of six and wounding of 19?
You would expect Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch to blow her dog whistle loud and long on this subject. Now, Maxime Bernier has joined her and others. Acting leader Rona Ambrose has criticized the motion, which she says the government is bringing forward to sow dissension in Conservative ranks. We've had a mass shooting targeting a specific religious group, and all Ambrose is worried about is her party looking bad?
Not all Conservative leadership candidates are rolling in the mud on this. Michael Chong is a notable and refreshing exception. Let's give him the last word:
"In light of the mass shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City last month, where six Muslims were killed and 19 injured while they prayed in their mosque, it is appropriate and important that Canadian parliamentarians study the issue of anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic prejudice and discrimination." Amen, Mr. Chong.