Getting to the heart of what M-103 was always all about
On Feb. 1, the National Heritage Committee submitted the report called for by the passage of M-103 last winter. M-103 surprised its backers when it turned out not to be the slam dunk they thought it would be, given that its founding predecessor document, Petition e-411, which called for a "whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religion, including Islamophobia," quietly slid as if along greased wheels to acceptance.
Thus, the words "including Islamophobia" having passed under the public radar before M-103 was introduced, M-103 backers were caught off guard when the polemical sky lit up with full-throated debate around what the hell "Islamophobia" actually meant. If it was bigotry against Muslims, why wasn't "anti-Muslim" good enough?
It passed amidst controversy and alarm amongst a great number of Canadians
The Conservatives tried to have the motion amended with that substitution, but M-103's supporters - notably among them the unelected Muslim advocacy group, National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly CAIR.Can, and MP Iqra Khalid - with the full support of the Liberals, dug in their heels on "Islamophobia," without ever clearly denying that it could also mean "criticism of Islam."
And so, although the motion passed in March 2017, it passed amidst controversy and alarm amongst a great number of Canadians who worried we were being hoodwinked into a plan to curtail freedom of speech where one specific religion was concerned.
From this organic constituency there arose a group called Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms, coalescing around the clear and coherent analysis of M-103 by Royal Canadian Air Force Major (ret'd) Russ Cooper, a decorated CF-18 combat pilot, who amongst other achievements, took on national responsibilities in the field of post-9/11 civil aviation security. The focused and task-oriented Cooper followed the M-103 hearings in meticulously documented detail, publishing regular reportage of witness testimony.