Saturday, January 20, 2018

Open Space: Don’t let motion M-103 limit free speech

March 29, 2017 by Thomas Busteed, contributing writer

In the wake of anti-Islamophobia motion M-103, put forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, I myself now put forward two questions. The first: why do we pay our politicians to discuss and pass motions that accomplish nothing? The second is a bit more pessimistic: is there a need for our government to openly condemn intolerance? No. That’s society’s role. There is no productive gain from politicians debating motions without policy.

I once sat in at the legislature and witnessed Liberals and NDPs debating the plans to reduce and eliminate the Medical Service Plan’s cost. It was back-and-forth banter, with a few roasts from each side of the chamber, ending with a vote to reduce and eliminate the tax. Nothing changed. It only meant people in Parliament agreed on something. A round of applause, ladies and gentlemen. These are your tax dollars hard at work.

This story originally appeared in our March 29, 2017 issue.

If you’re fine with politicians scoring easy political points by standing on a pedestal, saying “x-ism is bad,” and then reading a list of mean things people have said to them on the internet, then, by all means, vote accordingly. But, no matter what, there will always be people who dislike you for what you believe in, what you say, or how you act. That’s justifiable, and that’s their right. No matter what, some people will judge you for characteristics you cannot change; what is unjust is encouraging the use of government to infringe upon their rights, because someday it may be used against you.

Prejudice isn’t something the government is meant to solve; it’s up to us to solve it by fighting internally with ourselves, not externally with each other. Our dear country’s only duty is to provide a legal system under which we are all equal, where justice is colour blind and we are innocent until proven guilty. Fortunately, we live in the West, where we have equal rights and protection under the law, but often we take it for granted in favour of intersectionality.

The precondition to living in a modern, civilized society is the acceptance that you will do no violence toward others, unless an act of violence is instigated upon yourself.

With that being said, speech is not violence, and it never will be; the two are mutually exclusive. Clearly, we here in Canada suffer from an existential problem where we are welcoming to other cultures, while resenting, or even forgetting, our own identity as a Western civilization.

In the West, we value freedom of speech, expression, press, assembly, religion, and democracy. People from all over the world flee religious and political persecution and come to the West because they don’t have those freedoms at home and they wish for a better life. It’s not our government’s responsibility to give them that better life; it’s our responsibility as a society.

Good intentions often lead to disastrous consequences, and I worry that this motion will inspire legislation on speech.

Let’s not restrict the same freedoms that others fled their homes in search of.

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