Canada: MP commits to changing language of bill banning hate symbols

Published on Mar 03, 2022 01:07 PM IST
The bill was protested by the Indo-Canadian community for failing to differentiate between the sacred swastika from the hooked cross used by the Nazi Party and its supporters
Police officers stand guard in front of a car painted with slogans as it leaves the protest, as truckers and supporters continue blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in protest against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 12. (REUTERS/FILE)
Police officers stand guard in front of a car painted with slogans as it leaves the protest, as truckers and supporters continue blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in protest against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 12. (REUTERS/FILE)

A Canada’s MP, who sponsored a bill on banning Nazi symbols in the country, has committed to amending the language of the bill to differentiate the sacred swastika from the Hakenkreuz, or the hooked cross, recognised by its use by the Nazi Party and its supporters, after outrage from the Indo- Canadian community.

“I commit to amend Bill C-229 by replacing the word ‘swastika’ with ‘hooked cross’ after the word ‘Nazi’”, said New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Peter Julian in an email to the Hindu Federation, which had protested the proposed bill, currently before Canada’s House of Commons.

The private members’ bill, which has the support of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, sparked anger in the community after it sought to “prevent the display or sale of symbols or emblems such as the Nazi swastika and the Ku Klux Klan’s insignia, flags such as the standards of Germany between the years 1933 to 1945 and those of the Confederate States of America between the years 1861 to 1865 and uniforms, including the German and Confederate States of America military dress of those periods, as well as the hoods and robes of the Ku Klux Klan”.

The bill was introduced in response to the display of such symbols during a heavily criticised truckers’ protest against Covid restrictions, and in particular cross-border vaccine mandates, in the capital Ottawa last month.

Promoting a petition related to the bill, Singh had said in a post on Twitter, “Swastikas and confederate flags have no place in Canada. We have a responsibility to make our communities safe for everyone — it’s time to ban hate symbols in Canada.”

The Indo-Canadian community was further infuriated by what they said was the demonisation of a sacred religious symbol. In his email, Julian said he understood the symbol of the swastika was “revered in important religions including Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism,” adding that the bill, “does not in any way ban or otherwise limit the use of swastikas for religious, educational and/or historical purposes”.

On Monday, Chandra Arya, an MP from the ruling Liberal Party, addressed the House of Commons on this matter and called upon his fellow lawmakers to distinguish between the sacred swastika and the Nazi symbol of hatred.

In response, rights advocate Ragini Sharma has said that education and awareness efforts in differentiating thse symbols “must continue”.


    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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