Progressive-Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch has launched a petition to oppose Motion M-103, a private member's motion introduced by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid intended to recognize and study hate speech and bigotry in an "increasing public climate of hate and fear." The motion, which has no legal force or effect, also calls for a Parliamentary committee to study the issue.
But according to The Globe And Mail, many in the Conservative race condemned Motion M-103, which specifically mentions Islamophobia, as "an attack on free speech," and Kellie Leitch launched a petition against it under the hashtag #stopm103. In her words, "No religion should be singled out for special consideration." Although the petition site provides no numbers (and no links to the actual motion in question) as of the time of this writing, it has received 244 likes on Twitter and over 2,500 on Facebook.The members of the Conservative leadership race who spoke out against M-103, aside from Leitch, included Pierre Lemieux, Maxime Bernier, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer, and Erin O'Toole, alongside acting Conservative leader Rona Ambrose. Bernier described it as "a first step towards restricting our right to criticize Islam." Only Michael Chong spoke out in support of M-103.
"In light of the mass shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City last month, where six Muslims were killed and 19 injured while they prayed in their mosque, it is appropriate and important that Canadian parliamentarians study the issue of anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic prejudice and discrimination."For his troubles, according to the Montreal Gazette's Andrew Coyne, he was accused of being a sellout.
The full motion calls for the Canadian government to "recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear," "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination," study the issue and develop a government-wide approach to combat or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination via "a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making."
Leitch, meanwhile, is convinced that Motion M-103 grants "special privileges" to Muslims, but as many participating in the debate have noted, freedom from discrimination due to religion is not a special privilege: it already exists as part of the Criminal Code of Canada and applies to all religions equally, and there is no special privilege involved in drawing attention to particularly egregious violations of the law. Such as, for example, a rising tide of anti-Islam hate speech, which is already illegal.
Meanwhile, sharp-eyed citizens on social media have made an interesting observation about the image Kellie Leitch used for the background of her petition.The image used is a stock image of a young woman with tape over her mouth, which has been used frequently online over the years (a Google image search produces about 25 million results;) in this case, the model has "M-103" edited in over the tape. However, there is no other example to be found of this image in which the woman's eyes are blue - in every other instance, they're brown - implying that whoever did the editing changed them.
Meanwhile, acting Progressive-Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has accused the Liberal government of bringing the motion forward now (that is to say, two weeks after the Quebec City mosque shootings) to sow dissent in Conservative ranks.
Finally, as the Hamilton Spectator notes, this wouldn't be anything like the first time that the Canadian government has agreed to condemn hate against a certain religion; condemnations of discrimination and violence against Egyptian Coptic Christians, Jews, and Yazidis have all been issued in the past.
Whatever the case may be with Motion M-103, Maxime Bernier still leads the Conservative leadership polls, with Kellie Leitch a distant second when ranked by donor base. The final selection will be made on May 27, 2017.
[Featured Image by Donald Weber/Getty Images]