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MP Shields questions “Islamophobia” motion

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Taber Times

Thanks for the many phone calls and emails, and public conversations with constituents across Bow River regarding motion M-103, which seeks to have the government condemn Islamophobia.

This is, at its heart, a matter of freedom of speech, and we must guarantee that this fundamental constitutional freedom is preserved.

I want to be clear that I will be voting against motion M-103.

M-103 seeks to begin a study regarding one particular faith, and I know this is an issue that many constituents have brought forward. It calls on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to commence a study on eliminating Islamophobia. I think that most Canadians would have no issue supporting a study that wanted to look into discrimination based on religion generally across Canada, but focusing on one faith in particular does concern me, as it does many of you.

I believe that The Charter of Rights and Freedoms already contains a significant amount of protections for religious freedom. In fact, discrimination based on faith is explicitly banned by the Charter of Rights.

In 2012, our previous Conservative government established the Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs.  The Office has been at the forefront of the battle to protect freedom of religion and belief internationally, as well as to promote Canadian values of tolerance. The Liberal government shut down the Office of Religious Freedoms shortly after coming into power.

I know that the terrorist attack in Quebec, which was a terrible tragedy, is weighing heavily on people’s minds. That being said, I do not believe M-103 is the correct way to address the issues at hand.

The motion as written is flawed and it is not clear at all what the Member is attempting to do. As a Member of Parliament, I do not feel comfortable even considering a motion that does not clearly communicate its intent.

If a different motion is presented with completely different wording, it will be reviewed as any other.

Should you have any questions or comments on M-103, I can be reached in Brooks at 1-403-793-6775 or 1-844-241-0020, in Strathmore at 403-361-2980, or in Ottawa at 613-992-0761. I can also be reached by email at martin.shields@parl.gc.ca

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