Rebel Media alive & well at Heritage Committee – Cardozo

By Andrew Cardozo

Summer 2017 019

Comment
Monday, September 25, 2017 | the hill times

Rebel Media alive and well in House
Heritage Committee studying M-103

Conservative MPs continued to push back
zeroing in on their concern with naming
Islamophobia, a canard if there ever was one.

by Andrew Cardozo
New Communications Column

OTTAWA—“Parliament gets ready to
weaponize M-103, Trudeau’s ‘anti-
Islamophobia’ motion,” screamed Ezra
Levant’s headline in Rebel Media last
Monday as MPs in Ottawa sat down at the
House Committee on Canadian Heritage
to study the growth of racism. And on cue,
the three Conservative MPs zeroed in on
Levant’s questions opposing any reference
to Islamophobia. For a party that was
furiously back-peddling from The Rebel a
couple of weeks ago, it seemed firmly back
on the bicycle built for two.
I thought the Conservatives already had
their donnybrook and were now going to
move forward to firmly and clearly oppose
all forms of racism.
To be clear, Motion 103 calls on the
committee “to study how the government
could develop a government-wide approach
to reducing or eliminating systemic
racism and religious discrimination,”
including Islamophobia.
This motion was introduced in response
to a growth in the rise of racist actions
and in the aftermath of the shooting
of five Muslim men who were worshiping
in a mosque near Quebec City—the first
ever mass killing in a Canadian house of
worship.
While Canada remains the envy of
most when it comes to a diverse society
that lives in harmony, we can never take
our harmony for granted, and indeed that
harmony has been getting increasingly
punctured in the last few years.
Conservative MPs continued to push
back, zeroing in on their concern with
naming Islamophobia, a canard if there
ever was one.
The fact is that with every single quest
for progressive ideas, there has been opposition
and some of that continues to
today; be it bilingualism, multiculturalism,
racism, anti-Semitism, Indigenous rights,
gender equity, or even feminism. There is
a push-back every time. These terms get
defined and get continually redefined. It’s
just sad that 30 years after the Equality
Now! report of a similar House committee,
the clock is being turned back and the
conversation starting all over again, but
this time with strong push-back firmly
ensconced in our Parliament. And it’s back
to square one. In fact, it’s more like square
minus-one.
Activists and academics who have been
fighting hate and intolerance over the last
few decades say that this time round it’s
different. There is a growing acceptance of
intolerance and it’s happening in the name
of free speech and political correctness.
Certain political forces, especially south
of the border, have given a new voice to
those who want to push back. The genie
has escaped from the bottle and is finding
new oxygen. As Green Party Leader Elizabeth
May said, “white supremacy is being
normalized.”
On the one hand, it’s too bad because
while the pinnacle of our political system—
Parliament—is undertaking a noble
study to combat hate and racism, there is
one small group that is pushing back. On
the other hand, it is undoubtedly good that
they are giving voice to some Canadians
who feel they are not heard, but there is
something maddening and almost deeply
depressing about the tone and direction,
which was built on a hysterical political
and opportunistic campaign by one media
outlet’s fear-mongering in the most obvious
manner.
Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who sponsored
M-103, is a lawyer by training and she
took a firm and high road as she was the
first witness at the committee hearings on
the day Parliament returned for the fall
sitting. She performed so well that she
made the Conservatives look more meanspirited
than they probably intended. The
Liberals and NDP MPs egged her on to
take a few shots at the Conservatives, but
she resisted, instead calling on the allparty
committee to come up with a unified
agenda for action.
At the end of the day, the parties are
going to have to decide. While an all-party
approach to combating racism and hate
is most desirable, if one party is bent on
opposing it at every step, or watering down
every recommendation, or belittling the
reality of racism, the other parties are going
to have to make a decision, and let the
dissenters write their own minority report
unencumbered by any thoughts of political
correctness or political common sense.
This issue is too important to be scuttled
by Rebel Media.

Andrew Cardozo is president of the
Pearson Centre in Ottawa.
The Hill Times

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