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Politics Liberal MP Iqra Khalid addresses critics of anti-Islamophobia motion

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid on Parliament Hill February 3, 2016 in Ottawa. Ms. Khalid said her motion, M-103, does not give one religion or community special privileges, or restrict free speech.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

The Liberal MP whose private member's motion condemning Islamophobia has divided the House of Commons used her final submission on Tuesday to address what she called "outrageous" arguments being made about her proposal.

During the final debate in the Commons, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid said her motion, M-103, does not give one religion or community special privileges, or restrict free speech.

"This motion is not legally binding. In fact, M-103 serves as a catalyst for Canadians to speak out against discrimination and be heard where they may not have been heard before," she said.

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"Some other outrageous claims were made about M-103 and to that in simple and clear words, M-103 is not an attempt to create sharia law. I vow to be the first person to oppose any motion or law that negatively impacts our multicultural, secular society. I assure you, M-103 does not."

Most Conservatives appear set to vote against Ms. Khalid's motion, with only one leadership candidate, Michael Chong, saying he'll support it. The NDP will also support it, but MP Jenny Kwan criticized both the Liberals and Tories for "politicking" on the issue.

Ms. Khalid's motion calls on the government to "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination," to study the issue at the heritage committee, collect hate-crime data and report back to the House of Commons within eight months with recommendations.

The motion will be voted upon on Thursday. With the Liberal government's support, it is expected to pass.

Ms. Khalid's motion was originally supposed to be debated on April 5, but she traded her slot with another Liberal MP to move it up in the calendar. The second hour of debate fell on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Conservative MP David Sweet said Tuesday that M-103 could have been made better by including all faith communities rather than singling out one group, and it could have clarified the definition of Islamophobia and affirmed the right to freedom of speech.

"Instead of pursuing these changes, in an effort to have a meaningful, inclusive and non-partisan study on the matters of racism and religious discrimination, a debate that should unify us, the Liberals have decided there are more political points to win by ramming this motion through regardless of legitimate concerns I've articulated," he told the Commons.

Last fall, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's motion condemning "all forms of Islamophobia" passed unanimously in the House, although it wasn't a recorded vote and it's unclear how many MPs were in the chamber.

"I can't believe that people are still trying to find reasons to vote against motion M-103, which is simply an expression of what Parliament already said in the fall," Mr. Mulcair said Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, two small but combative groups clashed over the motion on Parliament Hill, with police officers standing in between protesters as they screamed insults and profanities at one another.

A group of about 30 people opposing M-103 held signs that said "No sharia for Canada" and "Free speech," while a smaller crowd holding a banner from the Revolutionary Communist Party chanted in support of Muslims and refugees.

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