Yukon News

The furor over M-103 shows exactly why it’s needed

Kyle Carruthers

Pointed Views Kyle Carruthers Wednesday February 22, 2017

You don’t have to travel far to see why an innocuous little motion of motherhood statements expressing concern about prejudice towards Muslims, debated by parliamentarians this past week, was simultaneously needed and intensely controversial.

When the editor of this paper penned a piece several weeks back about the recent massacre at a Quebec City mosque the comments posted online were embarrassing. One can only hope that the people weighing in were trolls from elsewhere and not our neighbours.

One commenter lamented the “diluting [of] Canada.” Another went much further, positing that Muslims ought to take the shooting as a “warning” that “Canadians will never accept your religion.”

Other stories, published here in our quiet little corner of this vast country, about Syrian refugees and hopes of building a local mosque — innocuous stories that ought not to provoke a lot of controversy — have led to similarly disproportionate and appalling reactions in the comments section. The Yukon is home to only 40 Muslim families, but apparently, we are not immune to prejudice towards them.

Yes, anti-Muslim bigotry has become a real problem. According to a 2016 poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration only 43 per cent of us have a net positive view of Muslims. That is substantially lower than the number who have positive views of Jews (68 per cent), Aboriginals (61 per cent) or even the generic “Immigrant” (also 61 per cent).

In this climate it was both surprising and unsurprising that a parliamentary motion, M-103, expressing concern about the phenomenon and calling on the heritage committee to study what might be done about it, would trigger so much controversy. It’s surprising because it seems so patently obvious that this is a problem that our leaders ought to consider, and unsurprising because so much of the opposition to the motion was symptomatic of the phenomenon itself.

The Conservatives derided the motion for singling out one particular religion and proposed to amend it to make it more inclusive of all faiths — none of which have been the target of any recent mass shootings or seem to provoke the same visceral response every time they are mentioned in the media.

Hate is not a simple phenomenon. It exists at different times, in different locations within different social contexts, driven by different factors and experienced by its targets in different ways.

Anti-Muslim bigotry is distinct in many ways from the anti-Indigenous racism that has long been endemic in Canadian society. Or the anti-black racism that still taints the United States, with its history of slavery and segregation. Or anti-Semitism, which, while taboo in most circles, is somehow still a thing within certain segments of the population.

Denouncing a particular form of hate at a particular juncture in history within a certain social context is appropriate and reasonable, and the notion that the motion should be religiously neutral is bewildering.

Critics of the motion also expressed concerns that it is a slippery slope towards restrictions on unpopular speech. But the motion — which isn’t actually a law — doesn’t do that. And there are other ways to combat phenomena like anti-Muslim bigotry without such blunt tools as new hate speech laws that the heritage committee can study. There is no good reason, at this point, to believe that this is where we are headed.

There are certainly elements of the motion that one can quibble with.

Introduced months before the Quebec City shooting, the motion was retooled in that context as the phenomenon reached chilling new heights. As is often the case with backbench motions, it is hardly a model of artful wordsmithing.

It calls for a whole-of-government approach to fighting discrimination while “ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making.” No, I don’t have any idea what that means either.

There is also the critique offered by former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, who said he supported the motion in principle but would have preferred the phrase “anti-Muslim bigotry” to “Islamophobia.”

That would have been my preference as well (you’ll note I’ve yet to use it thus far in this column). “Islamophobia” as an English neologism does have an unfortunate degree of imprecision, and has been hideously abused in rows over satirical material such as Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses or the infamous Danish cartoons of Muhammad.

Religions are but sets of ideas and principles that we ought to be free to debate, discuss and, yes, even fear if we ultimately conclude that it is warranted.

But people are people — sentient beings with their own individual thoughts and emotions who are driven by a multitude of social influences and interpret their religion in their own way.

This is a point that people so often miss. Religious adherents are so rarely the caricatures we build up around the very darkest interpretations of their faith. Their actual views are far more nuanced and complex.

Opponents of resolution M-103 fail to see this. The lives of six people were violently snuffed out in an instant. The provocateurs at Ezra Levant’s race-baiting outlet The Rebel can continue to “just ask questions” all they want, but the most plausible explanation at this point is that the shooter’s motivations were rooted in hatred and contempt.

If a small group of families can’t build a house of worship here in the Yukon without bringing the haters out of the woodwork then “Islamophobia” or “anti-Muslim bigotry” or whatever you choose to call it deserves the condemnation and study of our parliamentarians.

Kyle Carruthers is a born-and-raised Yukoner who lives and practises law in Whitehorse.

16 Comments

Administrator wrote:
5:30pm Friday March 10, 2017

@North_of_60: Thanks for the heads up. We usually catch those spam comments, but in this case those two slipped through. They’ve been deleted.

north_of_60 wrote:
3:53pm Friday March 10, 2017

This web page at healthclue.eu has been reported as a deceptive site.

Deceptive sites are designed to trick you into doing something dangerous, like installing software, or revealing your personal information, like passwords, phone numbers or credit cards.

Entering any information on this web page may result in identity theft or other fraud.

DonM wrote:
1:53pm Sunday March 5, 2017

Haters are mis guided mental midgets who need lots of love and counseling so that they may be re introduced into civilized sociiety if that even exists anymore these days.between33

jean wrote:
6:19pm Saturday March 4, 2017

If M-103 is really about “ending of discrimination against all races and religions” as the Liberal MPs try to convince us, then the Muslim activist MP pushing this motion won’t object to including Judeophobia along with Islamophobia in the motion.

According to Statistics Canada, Jews are the most targeted minority group in Canada. Jews are one third the Muslim population, but Jews are eight times more likely to be the victims of hate crimes compared with Muslims. Not only that, Muslims are disproportionately responsible for as much as half the hate crime against Jews.

Including Judeophobia in the motion would send a strong message to the Muslim community that the ongoing hateful Judeophobia from some mosques is just as objectionable as their perceived
Islamophobia. http://en.cijnews.com/?p=193990

If the Liberals don’t include Judeophobia in M-103 then they send a clear signal that M-103 is only about ‘Islamophobia’ and they favor Islam over other ideologies. That is going to anger a lot of Canadians.
http://www.ottawasun.com/2017/02/25/the-backlash-to-political-correctness-was-inevitable

Yukoner wrote:
11:19pm Friday March 3, 2017

@There was always more hate: Well I as a white person have been the victim of racist discrimination by the system, as well as First Nation people calling me hateful racist names so it certainly goes both ways in Yukon.

There always was more hate wrote:
12:02pm Thursday March 2, 2017

against Jews, than anyone else. History has shown that when, there is a change of government, in any major country, like the US, hate crimes go up. I appreciate this paper, letting the conversation flow, so reads, can see the type of comments, people make and how they really think. I have experienced and seen on the lines of hate, against first nations peoples, in the Yukon. They were not from the Yukoners, but people who moved in. They are gone, after intervention. Wilf Carter

Arturs wrote:
7:23am Thursday March 2, 2017

  Of note to add to the discussion is that since Trump has occupied office hate crimes against Jews is up to where it is 8 times that of what is inflicted on Muslims.
  Are them ’ Sons of Thor’ clowns still around or I guess we don’t know because they wouldn’t show their faces.

Ben Dover wrote:
6:13pm Wednesday March 1, 2017

Jonathan Colby, is that you or the impostor?

north_of_60 wrote:
5:16pm Wednesday March 1, 2017

Anyone advocating the anti-islamophobia motion (M-103) must first explain how Canada’s existing hate speech laws don’t already address this issue. Pandering to specific ideologies is blatant virtue-signaling, and unacceptable in a free society.

In Canada, blasphemous libel is an offence under the Criminal Code. Section 296
...
(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.
...
Sections 318, 319, and 320 of the Code forbid hate propaganda. “Hate propaganda” means “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319.”
...
Under section 319, an accused is not guilty:
(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;
(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true

Some people just don't get it wrote:
2:28pm Wednesday March 1, 2017

and can’t understand the facts but have think they are right. It is to bad for them. Just checking people on their comments. How many who made comments on Dawson treatment plant have experience in that work?
Colby you are a waste print. Good bye.

ProScience Greenie wrote:
1:52pm Wednesday March 1, 2017

Forget the politically motivated and mostly harmless M-103, Canada still has a blasphemy law on the books - Criminal Code Section 296. All supporters of secular democracy, freedom of expression and maintaining a solid firewall between religion and state should be pushing our government to get rid of that.

In the big picture, any and all religious fundamentalism, which is pretty much the sole source of so much bigotry and racism, needs to be closely watched and guarded against. The same with all the fringe ideology out there. The very best way to do that is with full and unrestricted freedom of expression, satire and criticism. It will at times offend the moderately religious or those of delicate constitution but it is the only way to bring the ugliness to light and beat it back. Salman Rushdie, who by the way still has a price of several million dollars on his head, puts it very well…

“I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.” -  January 7, 2015

Jonathan Colby wrote:
10:54am Wednesday March 1, 2017

Wilf, no one was making fun of you because of your disability.

Say something ridiculous, get ridiculed. It’s just that easy. Your dyslexia makes it difficult to read and write, and I parcel through that as best I can, but poor writing doesn’t make your arguments terrible. You do that all on your own.

Everytime someone disagrees with you directly, you’re so quick to claim that you’re being picked on because of your disability. You are being picked on because you’re vocal, inflammatory, and you constantly accuse people of not knowing facts, and then often dont present any of your own!

If you dont want to be scrutinized, don’t appear on a platform where people can be scrutinized. Mercy!

Appreciative Reader wrote:
9:53pm Tuesday February 28, 2017

  What an excellent article. (The best I’ve read in some time.) We need to have more people read this article. I recommend Kyle for some kind of award on this piece.

jean wrote:
9:04pm Tuesday February 28, 2017

If M-103 is really about “ending of discrimination against all races and religions” as our Liberal MPs try to convince us, then the Muslim activist MP pushing this motion won’t object to including Judeophobia along with Islamophobia.

According to Statistics Canada, Jews are the most targeted minority group in Canada.  Jews are one third the Muslim population, yet Jews are eight times more likely to be the victims of hate crimes compared with Muslims. Not only that, Muslims are disproportionately responsible for as much as half the hate crime against Jews.

Including Judeophobia in the motion would send a strong message to the Muslim community that the ongoing hateful Judeophobia from some mosques is just as objectionable as their perceived Islamophobia.  http://en.cijnews.com/?p=193990

If the Liberals don’t include Judeophobia in M-103 then they send a clear signal that M-103 is only about ‘Islamophobia’ and they favor Islam over other ideologies. That is going to anger a lot of Canadians.
http://www.ottawasun.com/2017/02/25/the-backlash-to-political-correctness-was-inevitable

Alan wrote:
2:13pm Tuesday February 28, 2017

You support M-103, which is your right but to then imply that anyone not supporting it is a “hater” is a long leap of liberal logic. You consistently see things as black or white. If you don’t support Islam, you are Islamophobic, if you don’t love gay marriage, you’re homophobic.
Most things in this world are grey, and you getting in a tizzy over every “anti"fantasy really doesn’t help anyone but Henny Penny.

Prejudice and Racism wrote:
1:16pm Tuesday February 28, 2017

Lets start with prejudice. Read this paper Watts world comments and you will see people that are prejudice against me because having disabilities that effects my abilities to right. Prejudice live and will in the Yukon.
I lived in an area where there were people of color, First Nations, Jews, french, and many other people from different cultures. Racism and prejudice is higher than we think in Canada and the Yukon.
Give you an example, a person of color was in the liquor store and southern person from the US came into the liquor and told the person of color to get out of the store. RCMP were called and the person was send back to the US. Family member of mind was store manager.
I have worked for Middle East Companies from Iran and other parts and a lot of racism and prejudice is caused by the events in the Middle East, US politicians and media, and ease of obtaining fake information that primes racism and prejudice.
In the Yukon no one will do anything about it. Wilf Carter

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