The federal government will host a national summit on Islamophobia today, one day after a similar summit on anti-Semitism.
MPs unanimously voted for a motion for a national summit on Islamophobia in June after four members of a Muslim family were killed while taking an evening stroll in London, Ontario.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about outbreaks of Islamophobia in Canada – including a recent incident in Hamilton, Ontario.
Trudeau spoke about today’s summit but said it was up to all Canadians to fight “intolerance”.
“It is not only up to Muslim Canadians to fight Islamophobia, it is up to all of us to fight Islamophobia, hatred and intolerance in all its forms,” he said.
National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) CEO Mustafa Farooq said he wanted all levels of government to follow today’s summit with a concrete action plan.
“The reality is we can’t just add a list of terrible things that have happened,” he said, citing the recent surge in hate crimes.
Earlier this week, Farooq and the NCCM published 60 policy recommendations to tackle hatred and racism across the country.
The recommendations include amendments to the Criminal Code to better deal with hate crimes, a review of the school program, and a national fund for victims of Islamophobia.
“This is about survival”
Farooq said he hoped the government would commit to these recommendations and meet deadlines to achieve them.
“This is not about politics or elections,” he said. “Our community is about survival.”
Today’s summit takes place virtually. The government has announced that it will host leaders of Muslim communities, but has not released a full list of participants.
Most of the event will be closed to the public – a measure to ensure the safety of attendees, the government said. The opening speech, which is to take place at noon, is open to the media and the public.
NDP says the government should have acted sooner
NDP chairman Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday that while the summit was a good idea, liberals had been slow to crack down on the rise in Islamophobia and other racist ideologies.
“There are a number of solutions that we have known for years and unfortunately Mr Trudeau has not responded, taken no action,” he said.
Singh said liberals should make more efforts to combat online hatred and give police and security agencies more resources to crush white supremacist groups.
In February, a month after the US Capitol attack, Public Security Secretary Bill Blair announced that a number of “ideologically motivated violent extremist groups” – including the Proud Boys – had been added to Canada’s list of terrorist organizations were.
However, a recent report suggests that these efforts have not prevented groups like the Proud Boys from operating openly online.
Controversy starts anti-Semitism summit
On the same day that MPs voted for a summit on Islamophobia, the government announced that it would also host a summit on anti-Semitism on Wednesday.
In a media statement earlier this month, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger, said she had invited various cabinet ministers and MPs to join the discussion on anti-Semitism.
But opposition leaders said they had not received invitations to the anti-Semitism summit until the last minute.
Greens leader Annamie Paul tweeted on Tuesday evening that she had not received an invitation, although she was the only Jewish federal chairwoman.
Paul later tweeted early Wednesday afternoon that she had received an invitation to watch the summit just hours before the event started. She said she wanted to speak at the summit.
The government just sent a link to today’s anti-Semitism summit. I can watch, but I can’t speak. Reason: “to ensure that the summit remains a space in which community members can express their opinions and ideas”.
I’m jew This is my community. #cdnpoli
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s office said he was not originally invited to Wednesday’s summit or the one taking place today on Islamophobia, despite asking the government for an opportunity to speak.
O’Toole’s office said a late invitation to the anti-Semitism summit arrived Tuesday night.
“Mr. O’Toole received an invitation to attend the summit at 7.15pm last night, but despite repeated requests from stakeholders and our office, we are not involved in the event,” said spokeswoman Josie Sabatino.
A member of the O’Toole office told CBC that the critic of the Diversity and Inclusion Party would attend the entire anti-Semitism summit.
CLOCK | NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says his critic has been invited to the anti-Semitism summit
The NDP sent its critic Lindsay Mathyssen to the anti-Semitism summit. During his press conference on Wednesday, Singh said he looks forward to feedback from Mathyssen.
“We know that hatred is like fire … it is not isolated, it will spread, it will consume everyone. So we all have a shared responsibility to listen to the people affected, ”said Singh at a press conference on Wednesday.
Opposition leaders have been invited to the summit on Islamophobia, said Chagger’s office.
Wednesday’s summit coincided with the announcement by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair that the government will spend more than $ 6 million on 150 projects to help communities at risk of hate crime.
As part of the security infrastructure program, community centers, educational institutions, and places of worship can apply for funding to replace doors, windows, cameras, alarms, fences, lights, minor renovations to increase security, and basic training for staff to respond to hateful crime.
The next call starts on July 28th.