On December 12, 2018, Public Safety Canada Released the “2018 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada – Building a Safe and Resilient Canada.” This annual report compiled by an independent body of security and intelligence experts is meant to provide an open and transparent update on the threat to Canada from terrorism and violent extremism.
As a Member of parliament, I am proud to represent my constituents from very diverse backgrounds including Sikhs, Sunni Muslims, and Shia Muslims whose religion is referenced in this report. These communities have made significant contributions to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of Canada.
I have always been an advocate of human rights, peace, harmony, social justice, and have vowed to always stand up for minorities.
I stood up for the Sikh community during 80’s when the community was being targeted and maligned and associated with extremism. I spoke up in defence of Sikhs right to wear a turban to serve in the RCMP when political parties such as the Reform Party led by Preston Manning and Stephen Harper did not want to allow Sikh RCMP officers to wear turbans while serving. I have also advocated for an apology on the Komagata Maru Incident, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered in parliament in 2016.
I have also always stood with the Muslim community; I demanded the removal of Islamaphobic bus ads from Edmonton Transit Buses and I advocated for a motion to condemn Islamapobia in Parliament. I publicly spoke against the Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney government’s Barbaric Cultural Practices hotline which was designed to target the Muslim community in particular.
I spoke up against the Harper conservatives attempt to deny Muslim women the right to wear a hijab during citizenship ceremonies.
I have fought against Bill C-24 that created two-tier citizenship. This bill was repealed by our government last year.
This is why when I read the report, I immediately met with my colleague Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to express my deep concerns with the inclusion of the section entitled “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” along with the use of “Sunni Islamist Extremist” and “Shia Extremism.” I believe the language used in this report should not have ever been used. Unfortunately, this language has been used in government reports for the past 25 yrs.
I welcome the Minister Goodale’s statement stating that he asked officials to conduct a review and make the appropriate changes to the language used throughout the government to describe extremism and I look forward to the results of the review. Minister Goodale has stated that he is confident the terminology used in the report was never intended to encompass or malign entire religions.
As a Cabinet Minister, I’d also like to make it very clear that I did not have any knowledge of this report or its contents prior to its release. This report, like many others from the department, are not studied or approved by cabinet or any cabinet committee. These reports are compiled by an independent body.
We know that diversity is one our country’s great strengths and not something to be feared. We have come a long way toward building an inclusive society and we must always raise our voices when feel there are injustices to maintain this.