Hamilton-based NDP leader Horwath calls for plan to fight Islamophobia


Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath is calling for a provincial strategy to curb Islamophobia.

Horwath, who represents the Hamilton Centre riding, released a statement on Monday afternoon after four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., were killed in an alleged truck attack on Sunday. London Police Services said Monday that it believes the family members were likely targeted due to their religion.

“Words are not enough to express the sorrow and anger we are all feeling in the wake of news that three generations of a family were targeted and killed by a hateful act of Islamophobic terror in London this week,” Horwath stated.

“This family mattered, they were loved, and they should be here today. My heart aches for their relatives, friends, loved ones and their community forced to cope and grieve in the wake of this heinous attack, and devastating loss.”

Chief Steve Williams of the LPS told a news conference on Monday afternoon that the police “believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”

The driver of a pick-up truck is alleged to have jumped the curb at high speed and struck five members of the same family.

A 74-year-old woman died at the scene. A 44-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl died of their injuries after being rushed to hospital. A nine-year-old boy who is related to the deceased suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

In January 2017, six people were killed and five were injured after a shooter entered the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ste-Foy, Que., a Quebec City suburb, during the evening prayers.

In February, the federal government added “four ideologically motivated violent extremist groups” to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities.

Horwath’s statement seemed to place the deaths in London into a larger pattern.

“These murders are part of a rising tide of Islamophobia and white supremacist hate,” she said. “And it is critical that we stand together — as neighbours, Ontarians and Canadians — to call out and push back against this pernicious, deadly hate wherever we see it, and to build a plan to eradicate Islamophobia from our province.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and provincial Liberal leader Steven DelDuca also condemned the horrific deaths. Neither leader mentioned specifics about a course of action, as Horwath did.

“Justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place in London, Ontario yesterday (Sunday),” Ford said on his Twitter account. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends during this difficult time.”
DelDuca’s message seemed to allude to previous violent attacks against Muslims in Canada.

“My heart breaks for the victims, and for all Muslims having to witness yet another deadly Islamophobic attack,” DelDuca wrote. There’s no place for hatred and Islamophobia in Ontario.”

My heart breaks for the victims, and for all Muslims having to witness yet another deadly Islamophobic attack. There’s no place for hatred and Islamophobia in Ontario. Justice must be served for this hate crime. https://t.co/zSqY6rMOSR

— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) June 7, 2021

About 3.2 per cent of Canada’s population is Muslim, with about 50,000 residing in Hamilton.

Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green, who has the same constituents as Horwath, shared a statement from the National Council of Canadian Muslims on his Twitter account.

“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” wrote Green, who was Hamilton’s first Black city councillor and has also been leading the federal NDP’s push on Indigenous reconciliation.