Amira Elghawaby and Deborah Lyons

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Parliament Hill from across the Ottawa River, Ottawa

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, today I rise to honour the leadership of Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, and Deborah Lyons, Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

Like all of you, I’m very concerned about the recent rise in hate speech, threats and violence against Jewish, Arab and Muslim Canadians.

No Jewish child should be afraid to go to school; no Muslim woman should be spit on for wearing a head scarf; no synagogue should be vandalized with Nazi symbols; and no mosque should have to incur exorbitant costs to keep worshippers safe.

Ms. Elghawaby and Ms. Lyons have shown leadership to bridge divides and build understanding. In April, they met with Governor General Mary Simon to discuss their shared belief that Canada should be free of hate and to talk about ways to encourage dialogue.

In a joint interview, Ms. Lyons said:

Amira and I work very closely together, and I think it’s important that we demonstrate to Canadians that, even during a time of fracture and pain, we as Canadians come together — based on our Canadian values — compassionately, respectfully, to work together, even when we disagree, but to work together toward the kind of Canada we want to have.

Ms. Elghawaby said:

. . . we have to find a way forward here in Canada on how are we going to heal, how are we going to ensure that people have the freedom to share their pain, they are able to demonstrate who they are, what they believe and what they want to see from their governments, all while respecting social unity, all while respecting what it means to be Canadian in a very difficult and fraught moment like this one.

Senators, these messages are a powerful reminder of what makes us one of the best countries in the world: an ability to engage in respectful dialogue rather than adopting confrontational positions.

Thank you. Shalom. As-salamu alaykum.

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