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McGARVEY – Why Canadians are resisting Motion 103

Iqra Khalid, MP in the House.

IT’S BEEN DECADES since there was a discernibly white Canada, even longer since there was a predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant version of the country.

In the past half century, the country has embraced multiculturalism. Many religious groups make up the cultural mosaic of Canada: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others, including many of the Islamic faith in Canada. By and large, they and other religious groups live normal lives contributing honestly and peacefully to the general public good.

This country is justifiably proud of its diversity and celebrates its multiethnic heritage in pageants and festivals up and down the country. That makes the very hostile reaction to Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s Motion 103 (a non-binding resolution condemning Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination) so shocking.

Mind you, opponents to Motion 103 have been quick to point out that Canadians already have plenty of protection against discrimination on religious and other grounds.

According to the Canadian Human Rights Act, “discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively for reasons such as their race, age or disability.” The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, or conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.

Given the existing protections against unwarranted discrimination in Canada, Motion 103 clouds rather than clarifies the Islamic question

Resistance to Motion 103 could be about what distinguishes Islam, and more importantly Islamic culture, from the rest. Every religion has internal conflicts and resistance to modernization, but Islam has elevated those conflicts to the point of civil war.

Apart from the headline wars raging in the Middle East, at least two civil wars are being fought within Islam. There is the ancient and ongoing Sunni-Shia schism, and the more recently sparked and much more violent conflict between Islamic modernists and traditionalists. The latter conflict spawned the Islamic State (IS) and has spilled beyond Islam: certain hardline Islamists now embrace a violent hatred of the West.

What’s poorly understood, particularly by westerners, is the extent to which IS and other Islamic traditionalists are reinventing their own past in order to support their strict medieval version of Islam.

In reality, Islam has a storied past. Its cultural achievements in mathematics, philosophy, banking and commerce laid the foundation of western European civilization. Islamic achievements, including Arabic numerals, fractional reserve banking and double-entry bookkeeping, have been credited with triggering the rise of the West. It’s arguable that there would not be a modern West without these advances, which makes our historical amnesia so troubling.

Islam is a monotheistic religion that shares its Abrahamic origins with Judaism and Christianity. Abrahamic religions share a particular trait: the word of God is written down in a book. In the case of Islam, that book is the Qur’an, considered by strict adherents to be the verbatim word of Allah.

This reality greatly empowers imams (religious leaders in Islam). Regrettably, some imams exploit their narrow interpretation of the Qur’an in an attempt to wage jihad against what they see as the decadence and immorality of the West.

Clearly, western fears of Islamist-inspired violence are not irrational. Indeed, the security services of Canada and other western nations actively seek intelligence from within these extremist groups in order to protect innocent citizens from terrorist attacks.

Many are concerned that Motion 103 would inhibit any kind of discretionary judgment in respect to Islam. Might criticism of IS and its brutality be considered a kind of Islamophobia? Would criticizing Islamic terrorism be classed as a hate crime in such circumstances?

That’s hard to imagine but given the existing protections against unwarranted discrimination in Canada, Motion 103 clouds rather than clarifies the Islamic question.

The vast majority of Islamic people in Canada are good citizens – they place their civic responsibilities ahead of their religious beliefs.

Rather than doubling down on another parliamentary gesture, MPs should put resources to work helping Canadians more fully appreciate the progressive history of Islam and its importance in the making of the modern world.

Robert McGarvey is chief strategist for Troy Media Digital Solutions Ltd., an economic historian and former managing director of Merlin Consulting, a London, U.K.-based consulting firm. Robert’s most recent book is Futuromics: A Guide to Thriving in Capitalism’s Third Wave

© 2017 Distributed by Troy Media

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About Mel Rothenburger (4913 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on McGARVEY – Why Canadians are resisting Motion 103

  1. Motion 103 seems to be something that has divided people rather than bring them together.
    It seems that it was concocted out of a spirit of selfish desires and then tied to a brand new word, “Islamophobia”.
    Canadian lawmakers ALREADY addressed the issue of human rights. I don’t think the majority of Canadians need to be micromanaged nor do Canadians need to have some conceptual “container” where a person can be labelled as a criminal because he or she desires to remain faithful as a Sikh, a Hindu, a Christian or an atheist and resists the idea that Islam should be something “special” to embrace.
    Maybe the MP should spend a few minutes becoming familiar with Canadian history and that would include a heart to heart session with some First Nations elders. She should try and understand that CANADA was diverse before she got elected and we, as a nation, fought two world wars together to win our freedom of speech.

  2. People, please, quit making this about one religion, a color, sexual orientation? Evil is evil, sometimes it is in your church, other times it may from a church you have never been? I believe the problem lies in the fact that for many years we have had rules dictating that we can practice our ‘religion’ behind closed doors. A don’t push it in my face and I am fine with your belief. If you are moving to Canada 🇨🇦 you are also welcome to do so. But when I am no longer allowed to act in the same manner that I was growing up because someone else moved in and is offended that I put up a Christmas tree perhaps the ‘rules’ have gotten a little stupid. I consider myself to be a decent moral human I do not attend a church as I have a huge problem with hypocrisy. That is my choice, and I am not saying that everyone who attends church is a hipocrate, but they are there!

    • Well said. Over the years, I have watched our traditions being eroded because some political wimp has decided that they may offend some new residents of our country. If you want to move to Canada , then you had better be prepared to if not practice our traditions, then at least respect them, and not expect us to give them up because they go against what you believe. As Canadians, we would not be given the time of day, nor be allowed to stay in their home country if we made the same demands there , as they do here. i am not prejudiced, I just expect as a Canadian that our traditions, and us, should be respected for who we are, the same as new immigrants expect of us.

  3. By blaming religion one conveniently or ignorantly avoids the big questions of economic relevance. The murkiness of financial interests are always at play in the background, regardless of the conflict.
    But considering what the “west” has done in the “east” why is anyone wondering why they are unhappy?

  4. -Long time ago, there was a Farside cartoon in the -then- newspapers of print (‘What an odd concept eh, paper newspapers…!) and on the cartoon was a picture of a sea of penguins facing the camera all looking up and at the mid-scetion of the picture there was a word bubble of one of the penguins saying something. It said: “I gotta be me.” -Do you get it? All of them look almost exactly alike and yet Mr. Special wants personalized recognition amidst the crowd of his ‘locals.’ -Canada is no different and should not be seen to be formidably forming certain ‘aspects’ around certain cultural historical references foremost as a demonstration of balanced multiculturalism.

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