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?
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.
Protesters rally over motion M-103 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 21, 2017.
Now Cooper has written a detailed and compelling analysis of the Heritage Committee report. Most of the report’s 30 recommendations, Cooper concludes, should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny by politicians, for many, if implemented, contain the seeds for further public dissension and potential freedom-of-speech curtailments warned against in the first go-around.
One of M-103’s objectives was, in its words, to counter a “climate of fear and hate.” But the report’s own statistics do not bear out the existence of any pervasive “climate” of broad-based hate and fear. In 2015, 1.9 million crimes were reported. Of them, 1,300 were deemed hate crimes, or one-tenth of one per cent of all crimes. A “dissenting report” by the Committee’s Conservative members noted that from 2009 to 2016 — with a Canadian population rise of three million people in that period — hate crimes actually decreased “nearly 13 per cent on a per capita basis.”
Barbara Kay: Canadians don’t need a ‘National Day’ scolding us for being IslamophobicHearing into Liberals’ anti-Islamophobia motion showcases confusion, fears of free speech loss
The report notes a 61-per-cent increase of hate crimes against Muslims from 2014 to 2015. The actual numbers went from 99 to 159. All hate …read more