This week Canadians were shocked and saddened to learn of the brutal and senseless killing of twelve French citizens in a terrorist attack. Of the twelve victims, ten were journalists and two were police officers. Freedom of the press and as well as law and order are two cherished aspects of any just and democratic society. It has been suggested that these murders were planned well in advance and in retaliation to satirical cartoons involving Islam. In turn a debate has ensued from the decision by some media organizations, including the CBC, to refuse to show some of these cartoons to Canadians, out of concern they may be offensive to some.
Since this incident occurred I have heard a large outpour of various comments and concerns from citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla and elsewhere including some suggested courses of action for Government. I would like to respond to some of the most commonly raised areas of concern.
The subject of the cartoons in question potentially being censored is also a concern I share. Canada, including the CBC, has long had a tradition of satire. Well known CBC shows such as the Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the Royal Canadian Air Farce and others have long used satire to poke comedic fun at many aspects of Canadian life, culture and our identity. It is in my view concerning if our national broadcaster arbitrarily decides that some faiths can be subject to comedic interpretation, whereas others are exempt or otherwise deemed to be “off limits". It can, in effect create division and runs contrary to many of the values we hold dear, which leads to the second and larger point.
We must never forget our successes as a country, that we have built a united and inclusive Canada. Immigration and integration has long been the foundation that has helped to build Canada and while we respect and share great diversity and many different cultures we also have our own unique identity as Canadians. Those who seek to do us harm threaten our unity. Division and exclusion are the weapons of those radicalized in extremist movements, who seek to separate civilized and democratic societies from the values they cherish to instead instil fear and create controls that limit freedom. Freedom, equality and democracy are the greatest threats to extremists and radicalized movements who fear these principles to such an extent they will brutally execute un-armed reporters, aid workers and those who are most vulnerable including women and children. Canada has always stood against tyranny and to protect the rights and freedoms of those who are most vulnerable. I believe these principles are part of what it means to be Canadian. Throughout our history and to this very day we do not turn our back and expect others to make these sacrifices.
There will be those who will disagree with my comments this week as should be expected in any open, free democratic society. This week more than any other, we should embrace our right to disagree and to debate without fear of reprisal or repercussion. However let us also never forget that what makes us stronger as a country is our ability to stand together united as Canadians. The darkest moments of our past have always been when segments of our society have been isolated and excluded from others. A situation that still exists in some countries to this day and can lead to further conflict. We are a nation united and as Canadians we will stand together in our shared freedoms and democracy while we continue to build a stronger Canada. I welcome your comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
1/8/2015 11:16:54 am
Hey Dan, why don't YOU publish those cartoons. You must have seen the one about the naked woman running down the street with the burqa (veil) shoved up her a$$. "Yes to wearing the burqa," the cartoonist chortles, "on the inside!" What about the one showing the member of the Muslim brotherhood being shot by Egyptian authorities? "The Koran is sh*t," the cartoonist asserts, "it doesn't stop bullets." Or the one about the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist giving a slobbering kiss to the man wearing Islamic clothing: "Love is stronger than hatred." I guess we’re supposed to believe that hatred is not what’s in the hearts of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists? Yes, I remember now, what we’re supposed to believe is that freedom of expression and democracy is what inspires these brave boychuk defenders of a free press.
1/8/2015 12:12:38 pm
No, Dan. Bad policy! I've got friends (and, you've got constituents) that would be deeply offended by these depictions. After all, they're meant to incite. It's entirely appropriate that we all, including the CBC, take a strong stand in support of free speech and against these terrorists attacks. Your suggestion, however, alienates our fellow Canadians and serves to fan the flames of division within our communities. This isn't a game. Stop treating it as though it was a school yard brawl. Represent ALL of your constituents - as you're supposed to be doing!
1/8/2015 12:38:25 pm
Nicely done Dan! I've not voted Conservative because your leader and so many of your colleagues seem to be unthinking ideologues. I admire your willingness, however, to stand on principle. Some of those with religious beliefs need to grab themselves a sense of humour. If their beliefs are so fragile that a few cartoons pose a threat to their God -- no matter who they conceive he, she or it to be -- then maybe it's time to re-examine the religion instead of going around shooting people. Just a thought. Carry on!
1/9/2015 02:03:50 am
Finally an MP not afraid to stand up to political correctness.I agree strongly that all faiths should be treated fairly and equally by the CBC.It is shameful that CBC decides to single out some religions but excludes others.This is a form of CBC sanctioned discrimination that allows terrorism and violence to win.
1/9/2015 08:04:19 am
I support the CBC. Offense does not necessitate re-offending. Read this article.
1/9/2015 08:06:16 am
Thank you Mr. Albas for standing up for freedom of expression. When we have a section of our population that neither laughs at itself nor allow others to lampoon it, then we seem to be dealing with something that is rather at odds with our culture. Islam has totalitarian ambitions with the aim of us all submitting to their way of doing things. Quite frankly the time to stop appeasing these ambitions is upon us, and the CBC choosing to "respect" the sensitivities of humourless Muslims is unseemly.
Whstver happened to: I abhor what you wrote/said/drawn but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
1/10/2015 03:34:56 am
Oh come now. When Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” there had as yet been no debate on hate speech -- what constitutes it, how it performs, why society doesn't want it. There is some difference between satirizing a point of view, a way of life, an ideology, and crafting up hate speech.
1/10/2015 04:30:46 am
What you consider to be hate speech, may simply be the truth.
1/10/2015 04:32:41 am
Actually, I read just yesterday that Charlie Hebdo fired one of its cartoonists for anti-Semitism in 2009. The cartoon and the controversy stirred up by it tore through French society. Don't believe for a moment that it would have been just fine for a Jewish prayer shawl to be shoved up the ass of a naked Jewish woman, or fine for the Torah to be called shit and shot up with bullets. I can't believe how the world is standing up for these cartoons as though they were the highest expression of our Western intellectual traditions! They were inflammatory crap, and we should say so!
1/10/2015 04:38:11 am
I know it's not popular in all circles to look for root causes when bad things happen, but I can think of worse things to do. In looking around for root causes, I'm getting a little tired of Muslims saying, whoa, so-called Islamic violence is 'not-us', this does not represent our religion, our values. One root cause of the event in Paris is, I think, the violence that's permitted by Islam, by sharia law -- the eye for an eye, the chopping off of hands and heads, the stoning of people. The murder of a bunch of idiot-cartoonists is cut from the same cloth. The Arab world has a lot to account for. It has a lot to get right.
1/10/2015 05:41:40 am
Very well researched and thoughtful post, Dianne.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola