OTTAWA — A motion condemning all forms of Islamophobia failed to get the unanimous consent of the House of Commons Wednesday — after some Conservative MPs stood opposed.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who proposed the motion, expressed his profound disappointment.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair talks with media in Ottawa on Sept. 28, 2016. (Photo: Matthew Usherwood/CP)
“I can’t see how anybody can speak out against a motion that seeks to condemn a form of hatred,” he said. “We’re here to condemn all forms of hatred in our society, whether it’s hatred against gender identity, hatred against a person’s ethnic or cultural origin and, in this case, against people’s religions.
Mulcair thought there would be consent, having discussed the motion with all parties more than a week ago, his office said.
After question period, Mulcair, acting on an e-petition sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis, asked the House to join the more than 66,000 Canadians urging parliamentarians to condemn all forms of Islamophobia.
While most MPs yelled out: “Agreed.” A handful of Conservatives said: “No.”
The motion was denied.
Petition notes 'infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals'
The petition, e-411, notes the contributions Muslims have made to the development of human civilization and states that while an “infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam,” their actions do not reflect the values or the teachings of Islam.
“We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world,” the petition instigated by Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, states.
Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary for consular affairs Omar Alghabra tweeted his shock at the Conservative MPs’ actions.
“It’s very difficult to understand what anyone's objection would be to condemn any form of racism or discrimination,” he told The Huffington Post Canada.
Either the Conservatives are too partisan and can’t accept any good ideas from other parties — or they have a fundamental disagreement with what the motion asks for, he said.
Liberal MP Omar Alghabra rises in the House of Commons on April 11, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
“It’s troubling. It’s a very non-partisan, symbolic, good, positive motion. And I thought it would be like ‘apple pie and motherhood’ type of statement,” Alghabra said.
Majzoub, who was in Ottawa to witness his motion pass, told reporters it was sad to see representatives of the Conservative party stand against inclusion.
“[It is] really encouraging, in a way, discrimination and bigotry against Canadian youth and Canadian women, men and children. To see someone standing up or refusing to have a condemnation of an agreed-upon discrimination, it is beyond the speculation of the imagination,” he said.
Canadian Muslim Forum president saddened
“Do I go and speak to my kids who were born in Quebec, in Canada, to tell them some of your representatives accept that you are being targeted, they are being discriminated, they are being attacked on the streets physically and verbally? They are being bashed... Because of your religious background or your culture. It is sad. It is outrageous,” he said.
Majzoub said he planned to come back with an even larger petition to make sure Islamophobia is denounced.
While Baylis also expressed his disappointment, he said a message of “positiveness and hope” had also emerged from the petition.
Towards the end of the signature drive, more than a thousand people were signing up a day, he told reporters. All the faiths in his Quebec riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard had come together to help, he said, The rabbi helped. The priest said yes.
“We reached out to the Sikh community because 30 years ago this was a Sikh problem. If you wore a turban and you were a man, you were called a terrorist. Today, we say that about Muslim people,” he said.
"Do I go and speak to my kids who were born in Quebec, in Canada, to tell them some of your representatives accept that you are being targeted, they are being discriminated, they are being attacked on the streets physically and verbally?"
“Thirty years from now, I don’t know who we’ll say that about, but it was wrong then, it’s wrong today.”
So while “a handful of people here have let us down, let us all down,” Baylis said, he wanted Canadians to know that the country as a whole, Liberals and New Democrats, were all standing together.
“That shows, in my estimation, the true Canadian values here,” he said.
Conservative party spokesman Jake Enwright told HuffPost he had “no comment” for now.
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