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March 11th, 2015

Speech by Tom Mulcair at ISNA Mosque in Mississauga, Ontario

As-Salaam Alaikum.

I’d like to thank Shaikh Abdullah for the gracious invitation to be here today.

And thank you to Feras Marish for that wonderful sermon.

I’m so pleased to be here with all of you, and to be joined by Fayaz Karim, the NDP’s incredible candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville… who many of you already know.

Fayaz is a strong voice for your community and I know he’ll do a remarkable job as MP representing your concerns in Ottawa.

For years, this mosque has played a vital role in Mississauga—promoting education and charity for all.

And it’s been a leader in promoting unity—a lesson so important to the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.

It’s that unity—the rock-solid belief that we are all stronger when we support one another—that brings me here today.

You know, I grew up the second oldest of 10 children.

We didn’t have much, we had to work hard just to get by—like many of you here today.

It wasn’t easy, but we learned the importance of looking out for one another, sticking together, of community, of generosity.

These are the values that guide me every single day.

These are the values that guide Fayaz, and these are the values that guide the NDP.

That’s why our party is so committed to fighting Islamophobia in all its forms— hate has no place in Canada.

And that’s why we are the only party standing up to Stephen Harper’s dangerous new anti-terrorism legislation—legislation that threatens the very values that Canada is built on.

Like everyone in Canada, New Democrats were shocked by the horrific and cowardly attacks in Ottawa and Quebec last fall.

On the night of the Parliament Hill shooting, I spoke to the nation and said that violence should never make us more fearful of our neighbours or less confident in ourselves.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has chosen a very different approach.

He’s chosen to divide, to drive fear and to weaken the very freedoms we’re supposed to protect.

He’s chosen to make Muslims—your family and friends—the scapegoat of his political debates.

Why else would he openly suggest that Islamicism is Canada’s biggest threat, or that Canadian mosques are home to radicalization?

The Prime Minister’s comments are offensive, they fuel Islamophobia… and he should apologize.

And why else would the Harper government try to convince Canadians that they have to choose between their security and their freedoms.

You and I know that’s a false choice.

Of course, protecting the public is the top priority of any government—and we understand that the threat of terrorism at home and abroad is very real.

Government responsibility also includes protecting our way of life, and our shared values.

Yet Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have introduced a bill that is sweeping, dangerously vague, and likely ineffective.

Mr. Harper’s bill could target any Canadian who disagrees with his government, regardless of whether or not they are a real threat.

Despite the deep concerns of a growing list of experts—including four former Prime Ministers—the government is rushing this bill through Parliament without any meaningful consultation or oversight.

The truth is, the Harper government isn’t interested in working together to make Canadians safer… they’re only interested in playing politics.

Unfortunately the Liberal Party has chosen to side with the Conservatives.

Just a few days ago, the Liberals stood with the Conservatives and voted in favour of this new bill—despite its obvious dangers.

Mr. Harper’s Conservatives appear to have intimated Justin Trudeau and the Liberals into weakening your fundamental freedoms.

That’s not the kind of leadership Canada needs.

Mr. Trudeau has shown poor judgement and a lack of principle… and that’s going to hurt your community and your family.

New Democrats will not be intimidated.

It’s more important than ever for leaders to show courage … to have a responsible, principled and balanced approach.

In the United States, President Obama is working with communities and faith leaders, supporting them in their efforts to fight radicalization before it starts.

Canada needs a similar approach—yet there is nothing in Mr. Harper’s bill to fight radicalization.

The fact is, we don’t have to give up our cherished freedoms in order to be more secure.

That’s why New Democrats are calling on the Conservative government not to rush its anti-terrorism legislation through Parliament, and to listen to the concerns of experts—and ordinary Canadians.

And that’s why we’re calling on the Liberal Party to reverse its support for this dangerous bill, and to work with the Official Opposition to protect the fundamental freedoms of all Canadians.

New Democrats will always be committed to fairness and justice…

Whether it’s pressuring the government to boost aid for Syrian refugees…

Or pressuring the Prime Minister to personally intervene and help bring Mohamed Fahmy back to Canada.

Friends, I’m here with you today because New Democrats understand that Islam is not our enemy.

Muslim-Canadians make remarkable contributions to this country… you deserve to live and raise your children without fear and suspicion.

I’m proud of the close bond that New Democrats have with Muslim-Canadian communities right across the country.

And I’m committed to continuing our work together, building prosperity for the middle class, opportunities for your children and unity for all Canadians.

By working together, we can build a better Canada… and a more peaceful and respectful world.

Thank you.