This article is an English translation of a blog originally published in French on the author’s web site and subsequently in both French and English on the web sites of the organization Libres penseurs athées — Atheist Freethinkers of which the translator is president.
Three days after the first-anniversary commemorations of the attack on the Grande mosquée in Quebec City, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage presented to the House of Commons its report entitled, “Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia” for which it received its mandate in March of 2017, when Motion M-103 condemning Islamophobia was adopted.
So much fanfare accompanied the proposal of a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia” that this report was almost forgotten and ignored. It is, however, very much in our interest to pay great attention to it.
The report contains a total of 30 recommendations whose goal is to implement a national action plan to fight against systemic racism and religious discrimination on the federal level.
This plan constitutes the most vast and ambitious such project ever presented so far to any government, a precise and rigorous project with wide-reaching consequences, a plan which uses religion to impose multiculturalism.
Making Religion a Race
The first recommendation proposes updating the current Canadian Action Plan Against Racism and to widen its reach, extending it to cover religious discrimination. Thus, the fight against racism targeting blacks and First Nations people would henceforth be extended to include Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.
Even though we know full well that a religion is not a race—because one does not choose one’s race, while on the other hand one’s religion is indeed a choice—this recommendation, by conflating race and religion, allows different religious groups to hijack anti-racist programmes and measures, and to use them to their advantage. It would be difficult to find a more effective form of opportunism!
Putting Religions at the Heart of Central Government
The second recommendation would have the effect of creating a directorate, within the Department of Canadian Heritage, mandated to implement this plan.
Not surprisingly, this recommendation was proposed by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the same organization which opposes any ban on the niqab and contested Quebec’s Bill 62 before the courts, the same organization which asked that January 29th be declared a National Day against Islamophobia.
This recommendation would allow the most militant and fundamentalist religious lobbies an open gateway to Parliament, with astonishing access to the means and resources enabling them to impose their religious views and values on Canadians in general and to take advantage of the political levers necessary to realize their goals.
Thus, with regard to government policies, it is proposed that a so-called “race equity lens” be used in order to predict and eliminate any unconscious prejudices which might creep into policies, programmes and decisions. What this means in practice is that, under the guise of fighting racism, the aim here is to purge current federal policies in order to make them more open to religious diversity.
Interreligious Dialogue to Make Politics Better
Religious groups are asking that the government encourage, support and finance initiatives taken anywhere and everywhere in Canada to launch interreligious dialogue. This will allow them to constitute pressure groups to influence government, to agree upon common objectives with the goal of promoting their interests and orienting federal policies.
These groups are also asking for a mechanism to share their best practices with the federal government. In other words, to have their entry into Parliament to facilitate access to politicians and those involved in policy development. Unsurprisingly, these recommendations were put forward by groups of evangelical Christians who are used to having their entry into Parliament.
A Major Educational Programme to Shape Minds
In order for religious diversity to serve the promotion of multiculturalism, it is imperative to implement an educational program with specific targets.
It is therefore recommended that a series of such measures be taken, that a public awareness campaign be developed and that media education be promoted, i.e. training sessions for journalists so that they will present a more positive image of religions, particularly Islam.
In addition, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, educational materials would be developed for youth on various religious and cultural practices. In short, something similar to Quebec’s abysmal Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course, but far, far worse, in every school, from coast to coast to coast.
Cultural skills training would be established for a number of professions, in particular social workers, teachers, legislators, government officials, lawyers, judges and health professionals.
Grants would be provided to academic experts to support the development of research projects on Islamophobia, racism and systemic religious discrimination which could be used to inform public policy. A windfall for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and all future doctoral students.
Police officers would also receive racial and cultural awareness training.
The final recommendation: “That January 29th be designated as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, and other forms of religious discrimination.”
Trudeau & the Engineering of Multiculturalism
This report institutes a veritable engineering of multiculturalism in which religions play a leading role. By giving them the means to increase their visibility and legitimacy, by offering them unprecedented protection and authority, the adoption of these recommendations would allow religions to interfere in the political sphere, which is contrary to secularism which presupposes a clear separation between religion and politics.
Justin Trudeau has understood the importance of religious diversity as a means to promote multiculturalism. He has understood the importance of wooing religious minorities in his desire to achieve a post-national state. The father gave us a Charter and a Multiculturalism Act; now the son aims to make his mark by going still further in the application of these tools.
Justin Trudeau is less naïve than he is ambitious. While Trump serves as a foil, Trudeau plans to make his mark at the international level by presenting Canada as a model of openness.
Trudeau is the other America, the America of the Open Society, neoliberalism and globalization. And he is ready to take any risk, including that of opening a wide-open freeway to the worst religious fundamentalisms.
Louise Mailloux is a Québécoise philosopher, writer and polemicist.
In French: https://louisemailloux.wordpress.com/
The English translation is provided by David Rand, President, Atheist Freethinkers of Canada.
Websites include: In French: https://www.atheologie.ca/
In English: https://www.atheology.ca/