“Our hearts are broken. Our minds are numb”

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2021-06-08 10:36 [p.8068]

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for putting my request forward, and I thank all my colleagues for this opportunity to speak to this horrific event.
Assalam alaikum.

I start with these words: “ Our hearts are broken, our minds are numb.” This could speak for all of Canada. These are the words of Omar Khamissa, who works in community outreach with the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

To everyone on that council, to everyone who is a regular visitor to the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario, I have had the great honour to meet with imams, to speak of the true Islamic spirit and to talk about the enormous contribution to Canada from our Muslim community.

The Muslim community and Muslim families are an integral part of Canada. We are one, big Canadian family. This is a time of great sorrow unlike any other.

We say these words over and over as we experience this. I have heard them from my hon. colleagues, the right hon. Prime Minister, the hon. leader of the official opposition, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, and the leader of the New Democratic Party, who so movingly reminded us of all the ways that our society is not the one we think it is.

We have been holding a mirror up to ourselves for some time now, and it is hard to like what we see, especially when Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir announced the preliminary findings of the 215 children who had long since died, but not that long ago. They were the bodies of little children from the Kamloops residential school.

This event reminds us of how we stood together. Many of us here today in this chamber will remember standing in the bitter cold of Quebec City in 2017 with the Islamic community of Quebec City after the shooting in the Quebec City mosque and saying, “Never again.”

What strikes me now, as we gather together again to repeat our frequent calls that we do better, is that I think of the hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills and her Motion No. 103. I think of her courage because I know she was targeted. There were some very nasty messages after she stood up and said that we have to do something about Islamophobia, as well as anti-Semitism and hatred of all kinds. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what we will do about it.

One thing that Motion No. 103 did for many of us in this place who were serving when it was put forward, was it exposed us to Islamophobia. Many of my constituents are dear, sweet people who I know. I had to write back to them saying they had misunderstood, that Motion No. 103 will not elevate Islam above Christianity.

They were afraid of that. I had to say that Motion No. 103 would not mean that we are going to have sharia law in Canada. There is a level just below the surface. Constituents sent me links to websites, by the way, with news sources that they wanted me to read, which said that Motion No. 103 would do all these things.

I wish I had taken notes yesterday when the minister of heritage, before the ethics committee, rattled off a bunch of statistics of how many hate crimes had been fuelled by an increase in hatred online, along with how many police chiefs are reporting an increase in incitement and radicalization to hate people based on their faith or the colour of their skin.

I am at a loss. I am the former leader of the Green Party, of course, and our leader has expressed the deep, deep sorrow of all of us. However, all of us together as elected people, I think, have to actually stop for a while and listen, maybe just invite people from the Islamic community to come and talk to us, because there is something very, very wrong in a beautiful community like London. I have had the honour to spend a lot of time there.

I want to send my condolences to our former colleague in this place because, of course, the mayor of London used to be the MP for London West. I also want to send my condolences to the current MP for London West, the current MP for London—Fanshawe, the current MP for London North Centre and all of the MPs touched by this personally. I know their hearts are broken, and they do not understand how this could happen in their community. Neither do I.

I just know that as Canadians, we have to do much, much better. That starts with acknowledging that we are broken, that we allow people to be infested by a seething hatred that would look at a beautiful family out for a Sunday walk and with premeditation, according to the police, try to wipe out that whole family.

We will never as a country be able to tell young Fayez how sorry we are, how much we hope for his future and how much we mourn the loss of the people of his family, the Afzaal family.
With that, I do not think it helps us much as politicians to pretend we have answers, but I do agree with the hon. leader of the New Democratic Party that, if we ever again see a political party trying to divide us based on someone wearing a hijab, we must call them out.

Let us make sure that we say to all of the Islamic community of this country that, from the bottom of hearts, we ask for their forgiveness for letting this hatred live among us. We love them. We care for them, just as we do for all the members of this human family, which is so very broken. Our hearts are broken. Our minds are numb.