Access to Security ResourcesPublished on 31 January 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Mobina Jaffer
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Minister, first of all, I want to welcome you. It’s an absolute honour. Since you’re the first minister that I will have an opportunity to say this to, I would ask you to convey to our Prime Minister, from all Muslims in our country, the tremendous leadership the Prime Minister and the leadership in our country has shown towards Muslims. We are really touched. When the Prime Minister and Premier Couillard say that this is our home, we truly believe we are home. I humbly ask you to convey to our Prime Minister and the other leadership that we appreciate the gesture.
Minister, my question is not directly to do with the work that you do in your department, but within the cabinet, and I will ask you since you’re the first person we’ve seen after what happened in Quebec, and I know that before, as a Member of Parliament, you also worked on this issue. There has been a lot of talk of resources being available to synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques to keep people secure. Can you elaborate on that?
Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Thank you very much. Even though I’m the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, what happened yesterday has touched all of us in government, regardless of our portfolios. Of course, you’ve seen the Prime Minister clearly demonstrate leadership in this area by conveying his support in solidarity for our Muslim brothers and sisters, but more important, to reflect what Canadian values are all about, saying we’re open to people and that we are a welcoming society, and that we truly value diversity.
As the son of immigrants, those remarks made by the Prime Minister touched me very much. I represent a very diverse riding with a high Muslim population. I’ve been in touch with many of the leaders in the community, and many of the faith leaders as well, and many of them have clearly expressed a concern and a fear that did not exist in the past. I think that’s something that we take very seriously and it’s something that we acknowledge.
Of course, we condemn the act of violence and terror that took place. I think there was clear recognition that there is nothing that justifies such behaviour. Of course, these were tragic events, but I gained a lot of inspiration yesterday when I saw Canadians from coast to coast to coast coming together to support their brothers and sisters, to support the community, and to support the Muslim community in particular. It showed Canada at its best. This is something that went well beyond partisan politics. Everyone rose to the occasion and I compliment not only the Prime Minister but leaders of all political parties who stood up in support of the Muslim community during these very difficult times.
With respect to some of the programs and initiatives in place on that, my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, is leading the charge on this, but he is working closely with many other departments. I know that he has up to $1 million allocated in his budget towards initiatives to help address some of the security concerns in places of worship or recreation centres where communities have been targeted or marginalized. The idea is to provide up to $50,000 worth of grants in these particular areas to provide them with the additional safety and security that they need.
I think in the short term the leadership provided by the Prime Minister and all our political leaders, in terms of setting a clear direction that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, is a very important first step, but we will provide additional resources to make sure Canadians feel safe in Canada.
Senator Jaffer: Minister, thank you for your response. Minister, may I ask that this information about exactly what resources are available be communicated so that people who need to use these security resources have access?
Minister, I know you are very proud of your daughters. I know how much you care that they are part of this society, because I’ve known you for a very long time. Yesterday, my granddaughter, who is three years old, asked me: Should we stop being Muslims? Because it hurts to be a Muslim in Canada today.
I don’t care about what is happening in the south, but I see the debate in our country as well. Nobody is deaf. I’m asking: What leadership is the government going to show beyond words to deal with the issue of hate that is being created in this country?
Mr. Bains: I thank you, again, for that very thoughtful question, and you are absolutely right. I’m proud to be a father. I’ve got two amazing young girls: Nanki, who is nine and Kirpa, who is six, and I see the world through their eyes. I could not imagine what they were thinking when they were watching the news or what they would be talking about at school. It frightens me as a parent.
I must confess, you know, my grandfather left Pakistan and moved to India and started from scratch for a better life. My father left India to come to Canada at a very young age to have a better life for himself and his kids, so I’m a by-product of generations of immigrants who have left places to really create better opportunities for future generations. I do not want to leave Canada, and I think you raise a very important point: I want to raise my girls here, I want to stay here.
I can assure the honourable senator that, of course, we are playing a leadership role with respect to sending a clear message that there is no room for such behaviour, but we are also looking forward at programs and policies to address the issues around hate and hate speech, to look at issues of what is inciting Islamophobia and xenophobia and looking at what tools the government has.
The government can’t do this alone. We need to work with our partners in society, civil society and different orders of government and make sure we deal collectively with this issue, because this is not the kind of future we want for our children. We’re determined to make sure we promote good Canadian values for generations to come.