No need to criminalize Islamophobia

Dear Editor:

Canada, the best country in the world, has accepted wave after wave of immigrants searching for a better life over our past 150 years of history. The French Roman Catholics, the English Protestants, the Jews from around the world, the Irish, the Europeans, the Ukrainians, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Chinese and many more.

Our record of acceptance may not be unblemished but our Canadian Constitution, our laws and our morals and values based on Christian Judaea principals have welcomed all immigrants and provided them with a chance to fit in and contribute to this great country and they have become an integral part of the fabric of Canada. In these 150 years our Canadian government has never found it necessary to pass legislation to criminalize critical comment directed at one group.

However, on October 6, 2016 Thomas Mulcair of the NPD introduced an anti-Islamophobia motion to the House of Commons. The motion was presented along with a petition of 60,000 signatures and sighted unsubstantiated examples of Islamophobia from across Canada. Despite the flourish of media  coverage the motion was defeated. The motion was subsequently re-introduced on October 26 and passed unanimously to no media fanfare. There is now word that the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will use the motion to validate legislation to make criticism if Islam a criminal offence.

If you know your Canadian history you will realize that none of these so-called Islamophobic slights compare with the treatment or slights hurled at Native Canadians, Irish Catholics, the Jewish or the Japanese Canadians. In the past our laws, our Canadian Constitution, and our morals and values, have been abundantly sufficient in dealing with problems originating from race or immigration. We Canadians may not be perfect but we do strive to provide a society where everyone is accepted as an equal.

There is no place in Canada for racist blasphemy legislation designed to shield one ideology from circumspection and truthful criticism.

Gaye Smith
Paisley, Ontario