AS PARLIAMENT prepares to vote on the anti-Islamophobia motion that has been part of the national discourse for months, a new public opinion poll released today (March 23, 2017) by the Angus Reid Institute finds that, if Canadians and not their elected representatives were voting, M-103 would fail.
More than four-in-ten Canadians say they would vote against the motion condemning “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” while fewer than three-in-ten would vote for it. A sizeable number – nearly one-third – say they are not sure or would abstain from voting.
This finding comes from a public split on the larger significance of anti-Muslim attitudes and discrimination in society. Half say it’s not necessary for government to condemn Islamophobia, and 55 per cent say the problem of anti-Muslim sentiments in this country has been “overblown” by politicians and the media.
Three-in-ten say the motion is ‘a threat to Canadians’ freedom of speech’ and should not be passed
• Canadians are split between believing anti-Muslim attitudes and discrimination are “a serious problem” (45%) and believing that they have been “overblown” by politicians and the media (55%)
• Three-in-ten (31%) say M-103 should not be passed because it is “a threat to Canadians’ freedom of speech”
• Canadians who voted for the governing Liberal Party are divided on how they would vote on this motion, which was put forward by a Liberal MP. Past Conservative voters are more unified in opposing M-103 (68% would vote against it)
M-103 was originally tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, a Muslim, in the fall of 2016. It was brought forward for debate in February following the mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City’s Sainte Foy neighbourhood. The motion requests that the government:
• “Recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”
• “Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination”
• “Request the heritage committee study” the development of “a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia”
• “Collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities and present findings within 240 calendar days”
The motion has drawn a significant backlash from members of the opposition Conservative Party, as well as from the general public. Protests against the motion – and counter-protests in favour of it – have been held across the country, sometimes turning violent.
Some M-103 opponents argue that it singles out one religion – Islam – for special treatment by using the word Islamophobia in its text. Conservative MPs offered an amendment that would have removed the reference, but it was defeated.
Others argue that M-103 is more seriously problematic. In the motion’s condemnation of Islamophobia, they see a potential stifling of legitimate critiques of Islam as a religion, and thus an violation of free speech rights.
Link to the poll here: www.angusreid.org/islamophobia-motion-103