Concerns shared with the two front runner candidates to the leadership race of the Conservative party of Canada by Canadian Muslim Forum
As the Conservative Party of Canada 2022 Leadership race enters its final weeks Canadian Muslim Forum put series of concerns to the 2 major candidates : Mr. Pierre Poilievre and Mr. Jean Charest.
The CMF asked the both candidates for their detailed views on most of the issues that are important for the Canadian and the Quebec Muslims .
...Here are what Mr. Charest responses
Thank you for the opportunity to address the issues and concerns of the Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF). It was a great pleasure to meet with members of the CMF leadership last week. Your advocacy on behalf of the Canadian Muslim community is essential. Building an inclusive Conservative Party of Canada that includes and respects communities of faith is deeply important to me and important for the well-being and prosperity of our society.
Please find my responses to each of the concerns addressed in your letter below:
Radicalization, extreme right, and hate crimes
Hate speech: there is a clear difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. Hate speech leads to hate, and freedom of speech leads to an enrichment of democracy. Any speech that leads to violence and bigotry should not fall under the reason for freedom of speech.
Social media: while respecting freedom of speech, there is a need for solid legislation to assert that social media platforms are not turned into feeding podiums for racism and prejudice. Those who preach violent hate should be identified and brought to justice.
Extreme right and supremacy-based ideologies that lead to violence should be addressed as they are the creeds that are being adopted by the perpetrators of the violent Islamophobic terror assaults and aggressions.
Historically, the Conservative Party of Canada has been the movement that defended individual rights and freedoms. Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights was the precursor to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I will always defend free speech, religious freedom, and all other liberties.
We have seen the spread of hate speech and misinformation, which is fueling intolerance and violence; the Quebec Mosque shooting is a devastating example of what happens when these views persist unchecked by the rule of law. Alexandre Bissonnette was radicalized by online hate after being influenced by far-right voices.
Those responsible are emboldened because our criminal code and justice system provide little deterrence to perpetrators. Authorized by the Financial Agent for Jean Charest
I will reconsider how the criminal code addresses hate speech and hate crimes. We must equip our justice system with the necessary tools to combat hatred and hold those who commit hate crimes accountable through stronger sentencing.
Laws and rules, although at the provincial levels, have implications that hit Canadian citizens hard. As evidence, in Bill 21, one of its clear implications is targeting Quebecois young women because of their choice of dress and beliefs. One survey after the other proves that the implications of Bill 21 have deepened the Islamophobic wounds of so many, it invites hate and discrimination against Canadian Muslims in Quebec.
Addressing openly what media reports have called a toxic Islamophobic environment within some of the Canadian federal security agencies. This sort of atmosphere has a very severe influence on even the process of decision-making in courts, refugee claimants, and the targeting of Canadian citizens and residents based on their religious and ethnic backgrounds. Recently many concerns have been raised about how CRA is dealing with community organizations in a way that the general belief of the targeted institutions and wide range of the community members that they have been targeted because of their Muslim identity.
In 2007, I was the Premier of Quebec at the time of a Supreme Court decision on ‘reasonable accommodation’. This was used to divide people in Quebec over multiculturalism and diversity. It was an unacceptably polarizing period.
As a result, I established the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, which issued a recommendation that is the equivalent of Bill 21 today. The suggestion was to prohibit religious symbols for officials in a position of authority in public service.
I said NO then, and I have opposed Bill 21 in its present form that went further by including teachers.
I will oppose Bill 21 in the Supreme Court as Prime Minister of Canada.
Institutional Islamophobia in the CRA, the CBSA, and any other government agencies is unacceptable. As Prime Minister, I will tackle these issues. I will ensure my cabinet understands these issues and will fight for the rights of all Canadians.
I will ensure oversight over agencies such as the CRA and CBSA, which currently lack it. I will initiate an inquiry into the concerns of Muslim charities.
This is what I have stood for all my life.
We must build a society where you can practice your faith openly and freely and never feel you are being targeted for it. Authorized by the Financial Agent for Jean Charest
Hidden racism is one of the most complicated challenges that need a special approach from the authorities to be able to be tackled and addressed. Hidden racism is demonstrated in job market hiring, career opportunities, and the occupying of higher posts. It is also manifested in what is considered a double standard when it comes to Canadian Muslims in particular.
Security and safety of Muslim Canadians: FMC-CMF believes that one of the most dangerous aspects of Islamophobia is the violence and terror directed at Muslim citizens and their institutions across the country. As Canada has witnessed a spike in such incidents, it is becoming much more urgent for an action-inclusive plan to address such very alarming phenomena before it gets out of control and claims more innocent Canadians' lives.
The murder of the Afzal family in London is a tragic act of terrorism that never should occur in Canada. The shooting at the mosque in Quebec City is a horrific scar for our nation.
We need to further secure places of worship with increased security grants because of the increasing hate crimes and incidents involving Mosques.
I will re-evaluate the definition of hate crimes in the criminal code to ensure that those who commit hate crimes can be held accountable by the justice system.
One of the positive narratives in facing Islamophobia could be by clearly recognizing the contribution of Canadian Muslims to society at large and at all social, economic, and political levels.
Women are the most visible victims of the Islamophobia ideology and the extreme populist elements in society. Opening opportunities to Canadian Muslim women in key positions is another component that sends a clear message that all Canadians are equal, and all can join the efforts in making Canada a multicultural country.
We must commit to inclusion within our own party first. I will welcome members of the Muslim community, including women, to run for our party and be part of my cabinet.
I will have no tolerance for hate in the Conservative Party of Canada. Candidates who have expressed Islamophobia or intolerance to any community will not be allowed to run for the Party when I am the leader.
There are many thousands of Muslim Conservative Party members and over a million Canadian Muslims. Our party must create opportunities so that Canadian Muslims can fully participate in our society. Authorized by the Financial Agent for Jean Charest
Foreign policy; the Uyghur in China, Muslims in India, and the Middle East dilemma.
We must maintain a balanced foreign policy. I have served as a special envoy to assist Canada in securing a seat on the security council.
Canada is absent from international affairs, including in the Middle East and Africa. If we are not present, we cannot hope to have our own voice internationally. We fail to lead and participate in debates about human rights violations and the challenges facing democracies around the world.
We must oppose the genocide of Uyghurs in China and the persecution of Muslims in India, and we must speak with fairness and balance regarding Israel and Palestine, and in favor of a two-state solution.
I hope these responses have addressed and clarified my positions on the Forum’s concerns. To win the next federal election, the Conservative Party of Canada must demonstrate its commitment to an inclusive and equitable society as one of Canada’s greatest strengths.