Despite an extensive campaign led by the Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC), which included a detailed deputation addressing our concerns and a request for a postponement to facilitate further community engagement and mitigate the politicization of critical issues, the By-law to Protect Vaughan’s Vulnerable Social Infrastructure has been recommended by the committee of the whole and is anticipated to be subsequently approved by the council. This decision undermines the public’s confidence in the council’s dedication to democratic principles and community engagement. CMPAC is disappointed in the council’s dismissal of vital community feedback and its neglect of the fundamental rights pertaining to peaceful protest and advocacy.

Since October 7th, addressing concerns of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism in Canada has been crucial. These concerns are comprehensively discussed in the analysis summarized in our  open letter published on our website and sent to the city council. In the current polarized climate, it is imperative that policymakers refrain from actions that could exacerbate tensions or be exploited for political gain. Rushing through such legislation, despite its potential infringements on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, risks heightening tensions and unfairly targeting specific communities, including Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians.

The By-law was enacted without adequate community consultation, particularly neglecting the voices of Muslim and Arab communities who stand to be disproportionately affected. This deficiency poses a direct threat to our Charter protected right to peaceful protest. Such provisions could lead to the criminalization of legitimate, non-violent expressions of dissent, a prospect that is fundamentally unjust and undemocratic. Moreover, the By-law’s disregard for constitutional protections exposes the city to considerable legal risks, liability, and potential repercussions.

Furthermore, the By-law’s punitive consequences could disproportionately impact smaller organizations and individuals, compounded by a lack of clarity regarding the appeals process, leaving them with limited avenues for recourse and  fostering an atmosphere of intimidation and suppression by virtue of such a punitive approach.

CMPAC remains committed to  fair and equitable policies. We urge the city of Vaughan to correct this rushed by-law and create an inclusive diverse and transparent consultation framework to guide the implementation of this By-law. This consultation framework must include and engage constructively with the Muslim and Arab communities. We are steadfast in our dedication to ensuring that future legislation in Vaughan and across all Canadian cities reflects principles of justice, diversity, and inclusion.