Compromises essential to freedoms
By Colten Kamlade, Senior Columnist
There has been a surprising lack of conversation about the recent “anti-Islamophia” motion that was proposed by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. Among other things, M-103 states that the government should “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” The Conservatives, as well as some Liberals, have been hesitant to pass this motion. Their concern is that the word “Islamophobia” is too vague, and therefore open to interpretation.
On one hand, the wording matters. Members of parliament should know exactly what they are voting on. People complain that the Conservatives are bogging down a process that should be simple. I don’t believe that’s true. Islamophobia is an ambiguous word and is often used unfairly to silence legitimate criticism. In response to M-103, the conservatives put forward a similar motion that removed the word “Islamophobia.” The intent was not to exclude Islam, but to eliminate ambiguity and avoid giving the religion preferential treatment. The conservative motion explicitly denounces discrimination against Islamic people. When asked why they turned down the alternative motion, the Liberals responded by saying that the “wording matters.” This is true, which is why M-103 should not contain words with unclear definitions.
On the other hand, M-103 is not a bill, which means it will not become law. If the motion is passed, from a legal standpoint it cannot restrict anyone’s right to freedom of speech. A committee will be formed to discuss solutions to religiously- and racially-motivated crimes. Some members of parliament are still worried, however, that this motion is the first step in an attempt to stifle critics of Islam. I am not above such concerns. It is not difficult to change the wording of the motion, and the fact that the Liberals are unwilling to make such slight alterations alarms me. Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but when it comes to my rights, I don’t mind being overprotective.
I would like to stress that I agree with the principles advanced in M-103. Eliminating discrimination is a commendable endeavour, and I fully support a revised motion. However, as it stands, M-103 is too ambiguous, and I can’t support something if I don’t know precisely what it means. I sincerely hope that the two parties can see past their differences on this issue. Surely, we can agree on cultivating a culture that condemns violence and discrimination in all its forms.