Statement on Recent Racial and Religious Intolerance in Ward 27

Councillor Wong-Tam stands against hatred of any kind in our city. The targeting of any race or religion for persecution is not acceptable in Canada.

Last week, Councillor Wong-Tam became aware of a protest a short block from her office where protesters were calling for the banning of a religion. As an unequivocal supporter of the Canadian values of pluralism and inclusivity, she took issue with those calling for this kind of oppression and creating a hostile environment for those exercising their religious traditions. Subsequently, she was also informed of videos online showing hateful, anti-Semitic speeches.

The quotes shared online and attributed to speakers at Masjid Toronto are disturbing and the Councillor absolutely stands against the targeting of members of the Jewish faith. It is unfortunate that this information has only been made available more recently, but Councillor Wong-Tam is confident local authorities will be able to respond to the investigation requests, independently translate and verify the content of all hate videos that have been posted to YouTube. Unfortunately, the Toronto Sun did not include a video on its page, which makes it difficult for a local Councillor to investigate the matter. As the Councillor is unable to verify the content of these videos, she trusts that the Toronto Police Service will dutifully investigate the details, translate, authenticate their contents, and respond appropriately to any and all complaints registered.

Recent targeting of the Jewish community in Toronto and elsewhere in North America is deeply disturbing. The toppling and desecration of Jewish graves, the vandalizing of mezuzahs and racist graffiti in Willowdale, and anonymous threats sent to various Jewish community centers are serious offences. These hateful acts are below us as a civil society and the dehumanizing mindset of the perpetrators must be challenged.

While bill M-103 is federal, Councillor Wong-Tam believes that it is an important and a reasoned initiative. Recent events have demonstrated there are existential hate-based threats to Muslim Canadians. While Islamophobia is named, specifically, the bill calls for the condemnation and reduction of all forms of racism and religious discrimination, all while reflecting the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter is a bedrock component of Canadian values and pluralism and the Councillor trusts that civil society and the legal system is as interested in maintaining those rights and freedoms as MP Khalid was in naming them. As Mayor Tory said on Twitter, M103 is a motion which "denounces all acts of hatred towards our Muslim citizens" and it will help ensure the safety of Muslims in our city.

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