Canada’s Ontario govt blocks motion condemning Islamophobia, racism


After a pre-planned attack killed a Muslim family, a liberal MP proposed a legislature to tackle the roots of the problem. Conservative Ontario MPs said no.

A Canadian MPP proposed a motion to condemn Islamophobia and racism, but it was rejected by Ontario’s government.

“I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice condemning all forms of Islamophobia and reaffirming the Legislature’s support for the Anti-Racism Directorate and that the question be put immediately,” said Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter standing in the Ontario legislature on Thursday. 

Hunter’s motion proposal came after a hit-and-run attack, one which the police said was “pre-planned” and “targeted hate crime” against a Muslim family in London, Ontario. The attack killed four Muslim family members and left a nine-year-old boy wounded. He is still receiving treatment in a hospital.

Triggering a stream of anger and grief across Canada, the attack alarmed human rights advocates who called for all levels of government to take action to tackle Islamophobia.

MPPs belonging to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario blocked the motion on the grounds that they did not receive the legislative text beforehand, which is compulsory as per party policy.

"What happened today was a Liberal MPP, with no notice, tried to surprise the government with a motion that we still have not seen. It is our policy to turn down all requests for unanimous consent that we have not seen in advance,” said Paul Calandra, the government house leader.

But for the Ontario Liberal Party and its members, it is nothing but an excuse. 

“Today I asked for the unanimous consent of the legislature to condemn all forms of Islamophobia and to reaffirm support for the Anti-Racism Directorate. @Fordnation 's government said NO,” Mitzie Hunter tweeted on Thursday. 

The Party condemned the decision of blocking the motion, saying that “Doug Ford’s Conservative caucus blocked what should have been a simple, meaningful motion for the Muslim community.” 

“Now they’re hiding behind procedure — it’s inexcusable,” read the party statement.

Two days before his party rejected the proposal, Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to honour the family and called the attack “an act of terrorism.” When he joined a vigil alongside thousands of people who mourned the dead, he was booed by the crowd. 

“This type of racism and terrorism cannot and will not be tolerated. We must stand united against it. It must be condemned in the strongest terms of those who commit this type of evil must and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Ford said.

The party stands by the decision saying that the rejection was a procedural requirement, but in the past, the party’s MPPs voted down another legislation that was proposed to combat anti-muslim hate crimes.

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid tabled a motion inviting federal politicians to condemn Islamophobia in 2017 after a gunman killed six people and injured 19 worshippers in a Quebec mosque.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who used to be an MP at the time, voted against it alongside many others. The motion has passed regardless. 

According to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, extremism is on the rise in Canada. A 2020 report that came from research on right-wing extremism on social media, found 6,660 accounts, channels, and pages associated with far-right extremism in the country.