February 2nd, 2018

NDP statement on the tabling of the heritage committee report: taking action against systemic racism and religious discrimination including islamophobia

NDP Critic for Multiculturalism, Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-East) made the following statement regarding the study stemming from Motion M-103:

"To build a better Canada, all parties need to work collaboratively to address systemic racism and religious discrimination. There is significant statistical evidence and personal testimony highlighting an increase in hate incidents towards Muslims. Despite this, partisan politicking and debate over the term ‘Islamophobia’ disappointingly hindered discussion of how we can best combat the rise in hate crimes in Canada, including those directed towards Muslim Canadians and their places of worship.

Witnesses clearly indicated that systemic racism and religious discrimination have far-ranging impacts on individuals and communities subjected to it. While more overt forms of racism and discrimination are becoming less tolerated in our society, subtle and implicit instances are more difficult to detect, understand, and address. Prejudice can also manifest unintentionally as a result of the unconscious biases of those in positions of power - biases which stem from longstanding stereotypes and myths about minority groups.

While I and my NDP colleagues support and advocated for many of the recommendations in this report, I also included a supplementary report containing 28 additional recommendations brought forward by witnesses in the course of this study. We are echoing these recommendations by calling on the government to:

  • Host a federal-provincial-territorial meeting to discuss the rise of hate crimes in Canada and develop best practices to address this troubling phenomenon. This should include a national plan to fund and provide cross-cultural and inter-faith training to all government employees and educators in our school systems.
  • Work with other levels of government to create a fund dedicated to police hate crime units.
  • Develop a pan-Canadian strategy to improve labor market integration and success, recognizing the economic inequities faced by immigrants, visible minorities, religious minorities and Aboriginal peoples.

Committee members heard compelling testimony about how far Canada has come, and how much remains to be done to identify and eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination in our country. We must boldly address these issues with open minds, compassion, and the will to do better."