Legislation to combat Islamophobia and hate crimes tabled in Ontario Legislature
Ontario’s New Democratic Party (NDP) tabled legislation Wednesday aimed at combating Islamophobia and hate crimes.
On Wednesday, NDP MPP Faisal Hassan tabled the Our London Family Act, which Horwath and the NDP created in collaboration with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).
The bill is co-sponsored by MPP Faisal Hassan (York South-Weston) and London NDP MPPs Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe), Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre) and Peggy Sattler (London West).
It takes multiple actions, including establishing a provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario, and designating safe zones around all houses of worship.
The bill addresses calls to action made in the NCCM's recommendations to the National Summit on Islamophobia, urging provincial leaders to move beyond words and undertake concrete, meaningful action to combat Islamophobia in Ontario.
"On June 6, 2021, three generations of the Afzaal family were killed in an Islamophobic terror attack while out on a walk in London, Ontario, leaving the youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal, as the sole survivor," Horwath said.
"In September 2020, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, a volunteer caretaker, was murdered while volunteering at the International Muslims Organization mosque in Toronto. For weeks, convoy protests organized by known Islamophobes and alt-right agitators waved hateful, white supremacist symbols in Ottawa and across Canada."
"No one should have to fear for their safety while walking wearing a hijab or worshipping at a masjid. Hate crimes and Islamophobia are on the rise in Canada, and we must do everything to ensure Ontario is a place where generations of Muslim families can live without being targeted by violence and hate, no matter the religion they practice, their clothes, or the colour of their skin,” Hassan said.
"Political leaders have failed to take concrete action to stop white supremacy and Islamophobic hate. The Ontario NDP has heard loud and clear the Muslim community's message that words are not enough. That's why we collaborated with NCCM and other community organizations to create legislation that takes real action to stamp out Islamophobia, white supremacy and hate crimes. And we have reached out to all parties for their support."
Mustafa Farooq, CEO, National Council of Canadian Muslims said, “Today, we are watching history as Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP introduce the Our London Family Act at Queen's Park. Last year, a family lost three generations in a single night in the London terror attack. In 2020, Mohamed Aslim Zafis was killed at the IMO Mosque in Toronto at the hands of a man with links to a white supremacist group. Ontario has lost far too many people to Islamophobia far too recently. This cannot be allowed to continue. As this piece of legislation comes forward, with the support of other parties in Queen's Park, we are urging all of our elected officials to pass it as soon as possible.”
Our London Family Act will ensure:
- A provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario in order to reduce their occurrences.
- Safe zones around religious institutions, which are often the targets of intimidation and hate-motivated demonstrations.
- New tools and strategies for Ontario schools to combat all forms of racism, including Islamophobia.
- Empowerment of the Speaker to ban protests at Queen’s Park that incite racist, homophobic, transphobic or xenophobic hate.
- Dismantling white supremacist groups by preventing them from registering as societies.
- The establishment of an Ontario Anti-Racism Advisory and Advocacy Council, to make sure racialized communities have a say on government policies that impact their lives.
Prior to the introduction of the legislation on February 23, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, NCCM, London Muslim Mosque, International Muslims Organization (IMO) Mosque and community partners met virtually to celebrate the introduction of the legislation and hear about next steps to bring change to the province.