For Immediate Release | Check Against Delivery

February 22, 2017

Statement by Mayor Crombie: Mississauga Council Supports M103

The following is a statement by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in response to the Private Members’ Motion (M-103) brought forward by Mississauga-Erin Mills Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, to combat Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. Today at Mississauga Council, Councillors endorsed M-103 and invited the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to hold hearings in Mississauga and waive the fees for using meeting space. Please click for the City of Mississauga motion in support of M-103.

“I met with MP Khalid about two weeks ago. She presented me with her motion before it went to the House and asked if I supported it. I said yes.

“There are many motions that go to the House, and Council does not often weigh in on them.

“However, after I saw the hatred directed toward Iqra, I knew I had to support her and send a strong signal that this hate has no place in Mississauga.

“The backlash and incredibly hateful speech that MP Khalid is enduring, is a testament that Islamaphobia is alive and well in our society.

“One need look no further than the abhorrent protests in front of a mosque in Toronto just last Friday. Signs read “Muslims are terrorists,” and “STOP ISLAM.” Don’t let the critics fool you: this is not about being critical of a religion, this is about eliminating the religion all together.

“The evidence of this hate is quantifiable. Hate crimes against Muslims have doubled over the past three years. We have a growing problem on our hands.

“Motion 103 gives us an opportunity to call out hatred and condemn it, while at the same time show solidarity with a community that has been and continues to be under attack.

“It was just over three weeks ago that a terrorist act occurred on Canadian soil and 6 innocent Muslims were gunned down while praying peacefully in their place of religious assembly.

“The Muslim community and the entire country were shaken by this attack.

“This Council spoke out against those attacks and it is my hope that through this motion, we will do so again.

“Motion 103 has drawn international attention and support, just as much as it has drawn vitriol and hatred.

“Having read the motion, I honestly do not know what all fuss is about. It simply does three things.

“It points out the need to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination;” – let me stress here, “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. It does not elevate Islam above all other religions.

“It requests that “the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study” of these issues and propose solutions.

“And most importantly, it demonstrates solidarity with Canadians of the Muslim faith that have been maligned verbally and attacked physically.

“Critics of this motion say we shouldn’t single out Islamaphobia because we can’t define it.

“Well, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “Islamaphobia” as “Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.” The Cambridge Dictionary adds the word “unreasonable” at the beginning.

“There is an irrational fear of Islam brewing in our society, fueled by the American President’s executive orders and campaign rhetoric, and those in our country who would use Islam as a political wedge to gain support.

“If this motion replaced “Islamaphobia” with “Anti-Semitism” or “Christophobia,” we would not be having this discussion. In fact, there have been many motions in the House condemning anti-Semitism, as well as violence against Christians at home and around the globe.

“As MP and federal Conservative Leadership Contestant, Michael Chong points out, the House adopted similar motions regarding Jews in 2016, Yazidis in 2016 and Egyptian Coptic Christians in 2011.

“The House routinely condemns attacks against Christians and people of all faiths at home and abroad.

“I can say “Black lives matter,” without reducing my standing as a white woman. Just as I can say I condemn anti-Semitism while maintaining my standing as a Catholic.

“Naming and condemning Islamaphobia is the first step to addressing the hate speech and misplaced fear of a religion.

“This motion simply denounces discrimination and prejudice against Muslims and people who practice the Islamic faith.

“It’s very important to realize that this is just a motion. It is not a law and will not lead to censorship. Hate speech is already defined in the Criminal Code under Section 319.

“The motion is simply a show of support and solidarity with a community that needs support right now. We must not allow the exception to prove the rule and take the extreme actions of some who distort the faith to represent the entire faith, the vast majority of whom are peaceful people.

“The actions of one group member are not those of all group members.

“Mississauga is home to a vibrant, flourishing and peaceful Muslim community. We welcome people of all faiths, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicities to live together. Mississauga is truly a global city. We celebrate our diversity and the Muslim community has been an integral part of our cultural fabric for many years.

“What we are supporting in this motion is a core Canadian value – that we will not tolerate intolerance.

“As we stand up for the Muslim community today, so too we will stand up for any other group or faith that is attacked.

“Our City has a role to play in making our residents feel safe and welcome, as well as showing to the world that we will not succumb to the politics of fear and division.

“No one should ever have to think twice about calling Canada home. Canada’s cities and towns must always be welcoming and inclusive. Eliminating systemic racism, religious discrimination and Islamophobia is a national call to action.  As a federal Member of Parliament, I stood up against racism, intolerance and religious persecution and maintain that we must continue to be vigilant so that rights and freedoms are protected. It requires a united front. All parties in Parliament must support MP Khalid’s motion.

“Issues of national importance, like efforts to combat systemic racism, religious discrimination and Islamophobia specifically, have a direct impact on safeguarding and elevating the quality of life of Canada’s sixth largest city.

“Our communities are where all people, of all backgrounds, are free to raise a family, earn an education, start a business, celebrate their faith in peace, and give back as responsible and compassionate citizens.

“It sets us apart in the world and it is something we must fiercely protect.

“If we as Councillors, in a position of privilege, do not speak up, we will allow hate, discrimination and division to go unchecked and to spread.

“I thank Councillor Parrish for moving this motion and I hope you will support it. We need to send a strong signal that this Council condemns racism and all religious discrimination, including Islamaphobia.

“I have never backed down from standing up for those who cannot do so themselves. If this costs me politically, so be it.

“But residents should know that no matter your race, religion, culture, ethnicity or sex, I will support you and ensure you are not only treated equally, but can live safely and peacefully in Mississauga. I will not tolerate intolerance.

“I think that is the job of a Mayor. Thank you.”