Masked men attacking an opponent of M-103 in Montreal
Photo Credit: Graham Hughes- The Canadian Press

Free speech or Islamophobia- Clashes in cities across Canada

It’s all because of a non-binding motion in Canada’s Parliament. The motion proposed by a Muslim member of the Liberal government seeks to condemn racism, discrimination and Islamophobia.

Opponents fear the potential for limits on free speech. The federal opposition Conservatives saying the Liberal motion singled out Islam for special consideration proposed a very similar motion, but without the word Islamophobia. That was defeated by the Liberal majority.

The Liberal motion known officially as M-103 will be debated in April.

This weekend however, several demonstrations and marches were held in cities across Canada with supporters and opponents of the Liberal motion.

In bitter cold in Montreal, anti M-103 demonstrators clash with Communists who apparently support the federal Liberal motion which condemns racism, and discrimination but which also singles out Islam for special consideration. © Jonathan Montpetit / CBC

Kept apart by police, it was mostly a case of the opposing sides shouting at each other, with pro and against sides each accusing the other of being racist and/or fascist.

In Calgary Alberta, Stephen Garvey said he organized the event on behalf of the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC) to protest M-103, a motion he believes infringes on every Canadian’s right to freedom of speech.

Quoted in the Calgary Herald he said, “A growing number of Canadians feel we’re under threat from this anti-Islamophobia motion — we feel it’s going too far,” said Garvey, who’s also the leader of National Advancement Party of Canada. “This whole thing of Islamophobia is complete nonsense as far as we’re concerned. No religion, ideology or way of life should ever come before our freedom of speech.”

The CCCC bills itself on Facebook as “an advocacy group comprised of men and women from all walks of life.”  That page shows about 3,000 followers.

A small group opposed to M-103 was opposed and shouted down by a much larger group in a counter demonstration.
A small group of a couple of hundred opposed to M-103 in Toronto was opposed and shouted down by a much larger group in a counter demonstration. © via CBC

The biggest demonstrations were in Toronto and in Montreal.  In almost all cases those opposed to M-103 were outnumbered by the counter demonstrators.  In Montreal about 150 opponents of the motion faced off with a larger group

In that case several scuffles occurred though no serious injuries.

Very few arrests were made at any of the demostrations.

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One comment on “Free speech or Islamophobia- Clashes in cities across Canada
  1. Avatar Ryan McCourt says:

    “Islamophobia” is a term frequently used to demonize critics of Islamic culture, and as such, the charge has been popularly, but improperly levelled at many former Muslims, Muslim reformers, and other peaceful, rational critics of religion.

    Religiously inspired hatred is as old as religion itself, and will continue to divide people so long as religious beliefs are held over and above secular ones. Rather than coddling and pandering to divisive religious identity politics, our government should be promoting secular values at every turn.

    I would be happy if our government made a daily motion opposing religious bigotry, ignorance, dishonesty, violence, discrimination, etc…. but have no interest in seeing our government use discriminatory, inflammatory, controversial terms like “Islamophobia” which, as noted, is often unthinkingly (or intentionally) used as a fallacious straw-man effigy to shut down debate.

    If the use and usefulness of the term cannot be rationally debated without such questioners automatically labelled as bigots, xenophobes, fascists, racists, etc. then that only further proves the point that the term itself is fatally compromised.

    No doubt, there are well meaning people on both sides of this issue that have good faith arguments to offer, but few such people were likely involved in these protests, and even fewer find themselves highlighted by the media, as controversy gets more clicks than rational argument, and fringe viewpoints always get more promotion than the logical middle ground ever does.