When Motion 103, a non-binding proposal titled “Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination” was first introduced by MP Iqra Khalid, supporters claimed it was a thoroughly uncontroversial request to study religious discrimination – with a particular focus on Islamophobia – and develop a method of reducing its impact.
The motion was approved on March 23, 2017. Initially brought before the House of Commons for debate as the province of Quebec was recovering from an attack by a crazed gunman on a mosque, killing six worshippers, the motion spoke to an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” As parliamentary motions in Canada are usually passed with a minimum of fuss and because a similar motion condemning Islamophobia had been passed by Parliament months before, there were grounds to assume that M103 would pass without complaint.
However, this time, Canadians – who already have a pretty solid reputation as the most tolerant country in the world – weren’t buying it. Polls showed the motion was vastly unpopular. Canada’s official opposition leader Rona Ambrose decried the motion as divisive. Protests against the motion sprang up in Canadian cities all throughout February and March. Opponents of M103 claim the motion benefits the growing Islamist presence within Canada’s Muslim communities.
Some Canadian journalists, such as Globe and Mail columnist Tabatha Southey, dismissed these concerns as “groundless xenophobia fuelled panic,” while National Post columnist Andrew Coyne wrote protests off as “hysteria” and “intolerance.” IPolitics correspondent Stephen Maher described the reaction as “anti-Muslim.” Canadian Muslim Forum President Samer Mazjoub claimed that an opposition motion, which offered a condemnation of all religious bigotry, not just Islamophobia, “has created waves of xenophobia” all across the country.
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