Red Deer MPs Earl Dreeshen and Blaine Calkins both voted against a motion in Parliament on Thursday that condemned Islamophobia.
M-103 ultimately passed by a margin of 201-91 in the House of Commons. A total of 86 Conservatives MPs voted against motion, including Dreeshen and Calkins, and two voted in favour.
Bloc Québécois members also voted against M-103.
The motion put forward by Liberal backbencher Iqra Khalid recognized the need to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. It asked that a Commons committee study how the government can eliminate the problem and collect data on hate crimes.
Last month, the Conservatives proposed an alternative motion, which was virtually identical except it dropped the word Islamophobia. The Liberals defeated it, contending that it was aimed at watering down Khalid’s motion.
Conservative MPs argued that the undefined term Islamophobia could be construed to mean any criticism of Islam. Some like Dreeshen, MP for Red Deer-Mountain View, said that the motion wrongly singled out one religion.
“A lot of people in the community were saying the term Islamophobia does not help them,” said Dreeshen on Friday.
He said a better way to address hate crimes against anyone, which are deplorable, was to strengthen the Criminal Code to deal with offenders.
“We have to make sure there are some teeth and that when you see things take place the courts deal with them accordingly. If that happens it will be easier for people to see that justice is being served.”
He said since M-103 was a motion and not a bill it was not legally binding on government. The Liberal government was just looking to make a political statement.
“Hopefully we can move forward and recognize that we’re all here, we’re all making a great country, and that’s the best way forward.”
szielinski@reddeeradvocate (with files from The Canadian Press)