Remarks in the House of Commons on the recent tragedy in London, Ontario
Lately, a lot of Canadians have been enjoying evening walks to get a bit of fresh air after long days at home during this pandemic.
On Sunday, in London, Ontario, that’s what a grandmother, two parents, and two children went out to do.
Three generations of the Afzaal family – Salman, Madiha, their children Yumna and Fayaz, and their grandmother.
But unlike every other night, that family never made it home.
Their lives were taken in a brutal, cowardly, and brazen act of violence.
This killing was no accident.
This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I’m horrified by this attack that took the lives of four family members and seriously injured a 9-year-old boy on Sunday night in London, Ontario.
Our hearts go out to their family and friends at this extremely difficult time.
And we wish the young boy a speedy recovery.
We know that he will live in sadness, incomprehension and anger for a long time because of this cowardly islamophobic attack.
Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated incident.
The shooting at a mosque in Quebec City.
The cowardly murder of Mohammed Aslam Zafis at a mosque in Toronto.
The violent attacks against Black Muslim women in Edmonton.
And so many other people across the country who faced insults, threats, and violence.
They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith.
This is happening here, in Canada.
And it has to stop.
Mr. Speaker, we must not allow ourselves to get used to this violence.
We must not become desensitized to it.
It must not become normal.
Every time we witness such hatred, we must condemn it.
It starts with small acts.
They can be a seed that grows into an ugly, pervasive trend.
And sometimes, they lead to real violence.
The jokes that are not funny.
The casual racism.
The insinuations that are only meant to diminish.
The toxic rhetoric.
The disinformation and the extremism online.
The polarization we see too often in our public discourse and in our politics.
As leaders and as Canadians, we not only have to say: enough is enough.
We must take action.
We cannot allow any form of hate to take root.
Because the consequences can be far too serious.
We’ve seen it in Christchurch.
We’ve seen it in other places around the world.
And we’ve lived it, here at home.
Right now, Canadians are outraged by what happened on Sunday.
And many Muslim Canadians are scared.
Last night, I spoke with the Mayor of London, Ed Holder, and a representative of the local Muslim community, Nawaz Tahir, to share my condolences and discuss the urgency of what more we must do to keep our communities safe.
Mr. Speaker, we stand with the people of London and with Muslim communities across the country.
We’re going to continue to fund initiatives like the Security Infrastructure Program to help protect communities at risk, and their schools and places of worship.
We’ll continue to fight hate online and offline, which includes taking even more action to dismantle far-right hate groups, like we did with the Proud Boys by adding them to Canada’s terror listing.
And we’ll continue doing everything we can to keep communities safe.
The perpetrator of Sunday’s cruel attack in London does not represent Canadians.
Because we know we are stronger with peace than with hatred and violence.
But we also know we need to be truthful.
Hatred and violence exist in this country – we see it the street, online and elsewhere.
And as long as it exists, we have work to do.
Mr. Speaker, if anyone thinks racism and hatred don’t exist in this country, I ask to them this: how do we explain such violence to that child in hospital?
How can we look families in the eye and say “islamophobia isn’t real”?
When you listen to the Black Muslim woman who constantly looks over her shoulder at the bus stop, fearing someone will pull off her hijab or hurt her, she’ll tell you islamophobia exists.
If you listen to the parents who beg their children not to wear traditional clothes for fear of them being harassed or attacked simply for what they’re wearing, they’ll tell you racism exists.
Muslim families have often felt uncertain or even fearful when they go out in the streets wearing traditional garb. The reality is, most Canadians haven’t necessarily been aware of that fear that far too many racialized and Muslim Canadians carry with them any time they go outside. If the attack in London has any impact on non-Muslim Canadians, it should be this – to understand the anxiety and the fear that our fellow Canadians carry, that they shouldn’t be. And it is on all of us to understand that experience, and be there to support and to help.
We can, and we must act.
As Canadians, we’ve been fighting a global pandemic for over a year now.
And we did it by coming together.
By working together.
And that is the only way of confronting the ugly face of hatred.
I want all Canadians to know that we are all diminished when any one of us is targeted.
We need to stand up to reject racism and terror, and work together to embrace what makes our country strong – our diversity.
May peace and blessings be upon you.