M-103: If Canadians, not MPs, voted in the House, the motion condemning Islamophobia would be defeated
As Parliament prepares to vote on the antiIslamophobia motion that has been par t of the national discourse for months, a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute finds that, if Canadians and not their elected representatives were voting, M-103 would fail. More than four-in-ten Canadians say they would vote against the motion condemning “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,”while fewer than three-in-ten would vote for it. A sizeable number – nearly one-third – say they are not sure or would abstain from voting. This finding comes from a public split on the larger significance of anti-Muslim attitudes and discrimination in society. Half say it’s not necessary for government to condemn Islamophobia, and 55 per cent say the problem of anti-Muslim sentiments in this country has been
“overblown” by politicians and the media.
* Canadians are split between believing antiMuslim attitudes and discrimination are “a serious problem” (45%) and believing that they have
been “overblown” by politicians and the media (55%)
* Three-in-ten (31%) say M-103 should not be passed because it is “a threat to Canadians’ freedom of speech”
* Canadians who voted for the governing Liberal Par ty are divided on how they would vote on this motion, which was put forward by a Liberal MP. Past Conservative voters are more unified in opposing M-103 (68% would vote against it)
How would Canadians vote?
M-103 was originally tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, a Muslim, in the fall of 2016. It was brought forward for debate in February following
the mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City’s Sainte Foy neighbourhood. The motion requests that the government recognizes the
need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear, condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, request the heritage committee study” the development of “a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia and Collect data to contextualize hate crime repor ts and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities and present findings within 240 calendar days. The motion has drawn a significant backlash from members of the opposition
Conservative Par ty, as well as from the general public. Protests against the motion – and counter-protests in favour of it – have been held across
the country, sometimes turning violent. Some M-103 opponents argue that it singles out one religion – Islam – for special treatment
by using the word Islamophobia in its text. Conservative MPs offered an amendment that would have removed the reference, but it was defeated.
Others argue that M-103 is more seriously problematic. In the motion’s condemnation of Islamophobia, they see a potential stifling of legitimate
critiques of Islam as a religion, and thus an violation of free speech rights. Whether because of these arguments or others, many Canadians
appear reluctant to suppor t Khalid’s motion. Asked if they would vote for or against M-103 they themselves were members of Parliament, the
largest group of respondents (42%) say they would vote against it. However, there are significant age and gender differences in how Canadians would vote. Education also appears to be a factor in how Canadians would vote on M- 103. Those with at least a university degree are more likely to say they would vote for the motion (43%) than to say they would vote against it (34%).