OTTAWA – Discrimination against visible and religious minorities in Canada has been hotly debated in the year leading up to this summer’s federal elections, but the issue receives little mention on the campaign platform published by the Conservative party this week.

The words “racism” and “anti-Semitism” do not appear anywhere on the party’s 160-page political platform, which focuses primarily on the aftermath and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also no references to black Canadians.

And in the wake of the deadly June attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario. – which saw conservative leader Erin O’Toole calling for “urgent action” to support Canadian Muslims – the term “Islamophobia” is also missing.

The omissions are somewhat at odds with the platform’s opening notes, in which O’Toole writes that it is “time for conservatives to take inequality seriously, because that is becoming a growing problem in our country. “, and says that Canada is a society where” everyone can develop their potential. “

Nor does it address last year’s national call for racial justice, sparked by a settling of scores on police brutality targeting blacks and indigenous people.

Instead, the document addresses discrimination and bridge-building through the lens of international human rights and foreign policy, rather than dealing with its existence in Canada.

Among a handful of proposals, Conservatives would establish an Office of Religious Freedom and Conscience that advises cabinet ministers “on threats to international security, engages in diplomacy of religious communities, and informs Canadian international development programs for promote freedom, pluralism, religious coexistence and tolerance. “

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Conservatives also promise to appoint the country’s “first Muslim ambassador and first ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation” to help build relations with the Muslim-majority nations of the world.

The party also wants to see the creation of an international advisory committee on human rights, made up of a “wide range of cultural and religious communities in Canada” to advise the government on matters abroad.

Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said that while the platform is “light” in addressing national Islamophobia, it offers some encouraging promise.

Conservatives acknowledged, for example, their support for China’s minority Muslim Uighur population, and said they would boost funding and expand the accessibility of Ottawa’s security infrastructure program, which helps protect places of worship and other institutions. of attacks motivated by hatred.

“Certainly, I would have liked to see clear articulations on … what they are going to do to challenge Islamophobia through clear promises and political commitments,” Farooq said.

On the other hand, the New Democrats, the only other major federal party to make its political promises public, are running on a platform that has dedicated an entire table to tackling racism and other forms of discrimination, although the details are vague.

The NDP document emphasizes the increase in hate incidents faced by Muslim, Jewish and Black Canadians, along with indigenous peoples. The party promises to enact a national action plan to “dismantle far-right organizations” and address “neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.” The NDP is also committed to better identifying and cataloging hate-related incidents and how they are handled within the Canadian judicial system.

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The collection of data based on race, the review of employment discrimination, and the treatment of the overrepresentation of black and indigenous persons in the federal prison population are also included in the PND plan.

Yet both the NDP and conservatives have pledged to counter online hate, with new Democrats seeking to convene a national task force on the issue and conservatives vowing to criminalize statements that encourage violence against other groups while protecting the rights. non-violent forms of violence. speech and criticism.

The two sides have also presented specific reconciliation plans focused on addressing injustices caused by the residential school system, self-determination, economic development and improving access to clean water.


Raisa Patel is an Ottawa reporter covering federal politics for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel


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