Last year the Canadian Government passed a motion that condemned the BDS movement. This motion didn’t make it illegal for the United Church of Canada, Quakers, organizations, university students and human rights activists and ordinary people like your Aunt Mabel who boycott Israeli companies like SodaStream because they operate (or used to?) in illegal settlements on what is supposed to be Palestinian land.
When the Canadian Government passed that motion, it was just a document that said the Government deplores BDS and those who do it.
This year, Liberal back bencher Iqra Khalid’s Motion 103 has raised a ruckus.
Once again it becomes clear Canadians need to improve our civic literacy. Our politicians have entirely too easy a time manipulating us.
A motion is not a law. A government motion that condemns X simply says the government thinks X is bad. It is not a law, but an attempt to lead by example.
Ms. Khalid’s Motion 103 will not make it illegal to criticise Islam. It does not herald the coming of Sharia law to Canada. Nor does it make racism illegal. Canadians will still be able to be racists if they wish to be. A motion is not a law: only a law can make something illegal.
As a writer, I am a firm believer in free speech. If you are concerned about Canadian law interfering with our free speech, there is plenty to talk about with our hate speech laws and the law Canadians know as C-51. But this motion does not do anything to inhibit free speech. Even if it wanted to it couldn’t. A motion is not a law.
Motion 103 just says the Government of Canada doesn’t approve of Islamophobia, systemic racism and religious discrimination, and tasks the government with studying it in hopes of finding a soluition. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re still worried, you can read it (like every motion or legislation considered by the Canadian Government) online. But to make it even easier, I’ve reproduced it for you here:
Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Text of the Motion
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
(a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;
(b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and
(c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could
(i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,
(ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This motion does not single out Islam for special consideration, it “condemns Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
After a young man murdered half a dozen Muslim men at prayer in their Quebec City mosque, is it not reasonable to condemn discrimination and hatred toward the Muslim community? Especially when such flames of extremism have been fanned by politicians?
All citizens are supposed to be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course, in a democracy that relies on an electoral system that fails to represent its citizens proportionally, citizens can only hope we will get governments that will uphold our Charter protections.