January 29th, 2018

NDP statement on 1st anniversary of Quebec City mosque shooting

NDP Parliamentary Leader, Guy Caron, made a speech in the House of Commons on the 1st anniversary of the mosque shooting in Quebec.

Because of hate, 17 children are now orphans. They are orphans because their fathers were killed simply for being Muslim.

On January 29, 2017, Khaled, Azzedine, Aboubaker, Mamadou, Ibrahima, Abdelkrim and others made their way to the Grande mosquée de Québec.

It was a winter night like any other. Peaceful.

But that night, an act of terrorism changed their lives, and ours, forever. A year ago, Islamophobia changed lives forever in Quebec City, and across Canada.

The tragedy at the great mosque in Québec city is the worst terrorist attack in Québec since the shooting at the École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 that killed 14 students and injured 14 others. They were targeted because they were women. There was a before and after the Polytechnique. There is now a before and after the Grande mosquée de Québec.

Over the past year, a lot has been said and a lot has been written about the attack. The dead have been mourned and their lives have been honoured. We honour them again today, knowing that it is not enough to honour them. We must commit to fight Islamophobia in order to deprive hate of future victims.

Today, on this day of commemoration, we must ask ourselves: what lessons have we learned? Has the tone of the discussion changed? Has it worsened? The regrettable answer to these questions is that hate crimes have not diminished, especially not online, or on social media. Harassment in the street —especially for Muslim women —continues, including violent acts. Just this summer, the car belonging to the president of the Centre culturel islamique de Québec was set ablaze in front of his home.

The intimidation of young Muslims also continues. How will they navigate this environment of constant suspicion that surrounds them? These youth live in the real world where they cannot close their eyes and pretend there is no racism directed towards them. Le Devoirannounced last week that in Montreal alone, almost 250 hate crimes were reported in 2017. That’s almost one every day, just in Montreal. And we know that a large number of hate crimes go unreported.

Silence is a common refuge for those who are tired of hate. Because hate is becoming so prevalent in our society, too many are just tuning out. But this is how hate prevails. And this is why we, as Parliamentarians, have a unique responsibility to speak out.

Hate has always found a target. Today, it includes Muslims and Arabs. Who knows which group will be targeted tomorrow? History is watching us.

As a white man, I do not know what it is to face racism. I will never be the victim of xenophobic acts. But some of my neighbours, friends, constituents, fellow MPs and staff will be. Some members of my family have faced racism.

We need to stand up and say: “We will not get used to this. We will not turn a blind eye to this hate. We will confront it. We will denounce it. And we will work to end hate.”

There is a lot of education to be done. Racism does not simply materialize out of thin air. It takes root in the space our society allots, and others feed it. It takes tools to rid it from our society. It is not an overnight job, and we must recognize how tenacious hate is. As elected officials, we have a collective responsibility to take note of the impact of words and, in turn, of our own words, as well as the messages we send and how they echo.

There is reason for hope. The day after the shooting at the Grande mosquée de Québec, 6,000 people in Québec city and 15,000 people in Montréal joined thousands across the country to stand in solidarity with the families of the victims. They gathered to not only mark the tragedy, but to stand and denounce racism, Islamophobia, and populist hate. Standing in the thousands, candles in hand, enduring freezing temperatures, they showed us the path we all must take — the path of solidarity in the face of division; the path of openness instead of suspicion based on ignorance.

Tonight, similar events are planned in Québec city, Montréal, Ottawa, Guelph, Kitchener, Hamilton, Toronto, St-Catherines, London, Yarmouth, Halifax, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. People are gathering, shoulder to shoulder to remember, to share the same pain, and to share the same hope for a brighter future.

To quote our leader Jagmeet Singh: “We’re all in this together.” No matter the colour of our skin, our beliefs, our gender identity, our place of birth, or the clothes we wear, human dignity does not discriminate based on religion, race, or gender.

Today, 17 children are orphans because of hate.

As a society we must be united in our determination to combat hate. Together, let’s pass on a peaceful world to the next generation. A world where everyone knows that they belong. Together, we will work to end the inequality that divides us. Together, we will douse the flames of intolerance.

Everyone deserves to live in peace. Everyone deserves to see their children laugh, run, and discover everything life has to offer as they grow up. Today we are reminded why it is so important that we stand united against all forms of hate.

As our leader Jagmeet Singh has said: “We must champion a politics of love to fight the growing politics of hate and a politics of courage to fight the politics of fear.”