Open Letter on Motion M-103

To all Conservative Members of Parliament

As the vote on Motion M-103 fast approaches, I am writing to you, as a Conservative of many years, to appeal to you not to take us down this dangerous path towards limiting our constitutional right to freedom of expression.  I am active on Facebook, on a number of conservative sites, and I can tell you that this is the number one concern right now, i.e. that pressure to be seen as “inclusive” and against “hatred”, to dispel the (unwarranted) depiction of the Harper Conservatives as “angry” (and also, of course, the desire to win over new voters), will persuade you to vote “Yes” to Motion M-103.  It should not! This is a vote of conscience! Our right to Freedom of Expression underpins every other freedom we enjoy in a democratic society. Without freedom of expression, there can BE no freedom of religion! Freedom of religion does not, nor should it, preclude the right of citizens to criticize any or all religious ideologies, including the way in which they may encroach on our democratic rights, human rights and societal values.

I realize that the recent, tragic event in Ste-Foy, Quebec may influence this vote.  Again, it should not!  There is, to date, no indication from police that this heinous act was terrorism, or that it was motivated by “Islamophobia”. It could, for all we know, be schizophrenia or retribution against a teacher who gave the assailant a poor mark at university.  A “like” for Donald Trump (he has 20 million likes!) does not a “white supremacist” make. Even should we learn that this young man was motivated by hatred for Muslims, this does not constitute proof of a widespread, societal problem of violence against Muslims (anti-Semitic acts far exceed those against Muslims), nor is there scientific proof to show that such violence is motivated by “hate speech”, as opposed to an understandable fear arising from the global proliferation of jihadi attacks! None of this would justify any limitation on our freedom of speech as it pertains to discussion of concerns about the teachings of Islam (or any religion).  Moreover, although Canada has already experienced a number of attacks (and aborted plots) motivated by Islamic terrorism, our Government has not undertaken an expansive study of what religious discrimination might underlie such attacks and the systemic remedies needed to prevent them. Why then, would this one attack on a mosque, horrific though it was, justify a similar study?

Ah, but the “optics”, you may say! Arguments for voting Yes to M-103 will no doubt be linked to this tragic event and deliberately framed as a vote for the Canadian values of “multi-culturalism” and “inclusiveness” – and against “hate”. Who would want to be seen as “cold-hearted” and “hate-filled”? Well, Conservative voters expect our leaders to possess both a heart and a mind and to use both! One can decry the recent violence against members of a mosque, while at the same time voting against M-103 on the basis of its potential, in the long-term, to harm Canadian democracy.

But this is just a motion, you may say; it means nothing! But it is the second vote of the House of Commons on this topic (after e-411 against “Islamophobia”) and this motion is specific in its demands and dangerously wide in its scope. Having voted twice in agreement with (unsubstantiated) statements to the effect that Islamophobia is a problem in Canada that needs to be studied and remedied, it will be that much more difficult for the House to vote against recommendations to remedy these purported “systemic” ills (which will by then have been supported by “scientific” research and data). The House will literally have painted itself into a corner!

To reiterate, a “Yes” vote for M-103 will take us down a dangerous road towards legislation to amend the Charter so as to limit our Freedom of Expression (and potentially, to inflict a wide range of legislation, policies and programmes on our society), in order to “protect” a religious group that is already adequately protected, as are all Canadians, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code.  To vote “ Yes” to this motion is to give credence to the author’s depiction of Canadian society as one which is overcome by a “public climate of hate and fear”, and rife with “systemic racism”, problems  which are so overwhelming, so widespread and so dangerous as to require a “whole-of-government” approach to tackle them! It is difficult to subscribe to such a dystopian view of Canadian society. It is even more difficult to arrive at the conclusion that these acts of “Islamophobia” are MORE dangerous to our society than the rapidly-spreading, malignant ideology of Islamic terrorism, which glorifies jihad attacks to kill as many “unbelievers” as possible! Furthermore, one has to wonder whether legislative changes to remedy “Islamophobia” (e.g. limitations to Freedom of Speech) could prevent subsequent attempts by the Canadian Government to “quell” the societal ill of Islamic terrorism.

This IS a vote of conscience, a vote FOR our Freedom of Expression, and nothing else! Conservatives online are well aware of this issue and of its potential consequences. They will not forgive their Conservative leaders for voting “Yes” on this motion! Your votes on M-103 will assuredly be top-of-mind when Conservatives vote for their next leader on May 27th.

Yours Sincerely,

Catherine Campbell

5 Feb, 2017