Trudeau urges federal agencies to stand up against Islamophobia and racism

Prime minister says these institutions should 'support, not target people'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on federal agencies to stop targeting Muslims.

Mr Trudeau singled out the Canadian Revenue Agency and security agencies in his remarks during a virtual conference on Islamophobia on Thursday.

“Within government, [we need] to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia because, from the CRA to security agencies, institutions should support people not target them,” he told the summit.

A report released in June by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, a civil society coalition, found that three quarters of the groups whose charitable statuses were revoked were Muslim organisations.

The conference on Islamophobia was held just over a month after a man drove his pickup truck into a Muslim family in London, Ontario, as they were taking an evening stroll. Four members of the Afzaal family were killed.

The incident prompted national outrage and highlighted the need for Canadians to address a rising tide of Islamophobia.

Shortly afterwards, MPs voted unanimously to hold a national conference.

“Right now, we do have to fight for the kind of Canada we all want to see,” Mr Trudeau said. “A place where we celebrate diversity, where we stand together, where we look out for each other.

“That’s the promise our country must work hard to live up to. Because too many times and for too many people that promise has been broken.”

During the conference, the federal government committed to improving its Security Infrastructure Programme, which was devised to better protect minority Canadians.

“To keep people safe, we’re investing in infrastructure to protect everything from mosques to community centres and to keep violence out of our communities, we’re cracking down on online extremism and banning far-right hate groups,” Mr Trudeau said.

Ottawa also committed to conduct a full study of the CRA to address the “concerns of Muslim-led charitable organisations".

Before the conference, the National Council of Canadian Muslims released 61 recommendations for the government to act on.

The council said it could not call the event a success until more of its requests were met.

“We would have liked to see a greater role of municipalities, provinces and other actors to addressing these challenges in the summit,” it said.

“More is clearly needed to address the challenges in front of us.”

Updated: July 23rd 2021, 5:51 PM