Because of the mosque tragedy, on Feb. 16, the House will likely vote unanimously for Motion 103, which is potentially a retrograde step for freedom of speech in Canada, at least insofar as it concerns “Islamophobia.” M-103 asks for a study to determine “a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” Though singled out for special consideration, it is noteworthy that the motion does not define Islamophobia.
Letter to the Editor – National Post
Barbara Kay is right to worry about the potential of parliamentary motion M-103 to silence criticism of Islam. I understand that a motion is not a bill and does not have the force of law. However, this motion to fight Islamophobia calls on the Standing Committee of Canadian Heritage to undertake a study to determine what kind of action the government should take to combat Islamophobia and to report to Parliament within a specified time. Surely this raises the ominous prospect that the government of Canada is considering some sort blasphemy law to protect Islam from criticism and satire. In that case, Canada’s Members of Parliament would unwittingly be implementing the objectives of Resolution 16/18 promoted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the United Nations.
Human beings have rights, but ideas, religions, and ideologies do not. Islam is no more deserving of legal protection from criticism than Christianity, Judaism, communism, or capitalism. As the West has learned over the centuries, blasphemy laws are a really bad idea. Freedom of speech by definition means the right to express opinions that are offensive to others. The tragedy of the killings in Quebec City must not be used as an excuse to revoke this cherished right. But that is exactly what Petition e-411 and Motion M-103 (and any legislation that might arise from them) threaten to do.
Let us hope that our Parliamentarians have the sense to vote down Motion M-103 and to rescind their endorsement of Petition e-411 on which it is based.