(February 2017, Ottawa)—On behalf of the Public Service Alliance of Canada—National Capital Region, the Racially Visible Action Committee (RVAC), condemns this week’s vicious attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City by Alexandre Bissonnette, a young and apparently right-wing extremist student studying at Laval University. The attack, which killed six people and injured 19 others, is a reminder that racism and, specifically, Islamophobia, are very much alive in Canada today.
RVAC remains committed to supporting Muslim workers in the federal public service as well as Muslims in the National Capital Region, as members of these communities come to terms with the incident. RVAC also commits to taking further action in the coming months to address Islamophobia in the region.
The outpouring of support we have witnessed from Canadians across the country has been heartwarming in these difficult times. Moreover, the supportive words of many Canadian politicians in the aftermath has also been encouraging. However, we should not forget that the anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada has been brewing for a long time, and cannot just be compartmentalized to extreme right-wing nationalist elements in our society who may be inspired by Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
For far too long, mainstream discourse in Canada has created a permissive and emboldening atmosphere for anti-Muslim extremists. This has been caused, amongst others, by:
- media outlets that regularly associate Muslims with terrorism, when in fact non-Muslims have been behind Canada’s biggest shootings;
- politicians in Quebec and across Canada who exploit fears and misconceptions via identity politics to marginalize Canadian Muslims; and
- governments that target Muslims and their communities for surveillance and discrimination via enabling directives, policies and legislation, such as Bill C-51, which was passed into law by the Harper Conservatives but today continues unrepealed under the Trudeau Liberals.
RVAC calls on the federal government to take concrete action in the coming months and years to change this atmosphere in Canada, and decisively shift the country away from the dangerous route it slipped into this week.