[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″] [su_quote cite=”Megan Leslie – MP for Halifax”]I’d like to call in …the barbaric cultural practice of thinking a teenage girl has consented to sex when she’s vomiting out the window.[/su_quote]

Whatever comes down the pipe this week I know it’s going to be upsetting. I’ll once again have to reach for my wife’s hand and squeeze it a little tighter just to get through the day. I’ll lay in bed awake for much of the night imagining I can hear the familiar sobs coming from my daughters room but knowing I’ll never hear “daddy” again.

This is the only thing I’m asking you to focus on – in Canada, having sex with someone who isn’t in a state to consent is rape. It isn’t sex. It’s a violent, barbaric crime and if we need a national hotline for anything it should be for a crime that effects millions of Canadians. It’s sad I have to write what consent and rape means but believe me, there is no shortage of people who don’t have a clue.

That aside our local Member of Parliament is Megan Leslie. She really nailed the hijab debate and I want to share her thoughts:

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I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman who was attacked by teenage boys who ripped off her hijab.

I don’t like to wear skirts above the knee. I guess it’s my own personal sense of modesty. I haven’t thought “why” much, it’s just that I’m more comfortable in skirts to the knee.

I have tried to imagine how I would feel if I was attacked by men or boys who tried to rip my skirt higher. It immediately makes my chest tight and tears spring to my eyes. I get a glimpse, but just a glimpse, of the terror. This is why I can’t sleep.

I went to the mosque on Agricola today (Centre for Islamic Development) not as a politician, but as a member of the community, a friend and a neighbour, to say that I condemn these racist acts. I wanted to look in the eyes of everyone there and say “I stand with you.”

I do not stand with a government that creates a fictional crisis about a woman taking a ceremonial oath while wearing a niqab. I reject a government that says Syrian refugees are likely terrorists because of where they come from: refugees are not terrorists; they are the first victims of terror.

Women told me about how they get shouted at on the street for wearing a headscarf, right here in Halifax. Another how she was told to go back to where she came from: she was born in Nova Scotia. Another who said that I could not imagine the constant fear of being a Muslim right now. A girl, a teenage girl said she asked her dad to turn off the radio because she can’t bear to listen to the news.

They’re clannish. They’re hyper-religious. They come from a backward culture. They could be terrorists. This is what they said about the Irish coming to Canada. George Brown, founder of the Globe newspaper, dedicated pages to anti-Irish sentiment, arguing why they shouldn’t be let into Canada.

The Irish will change our country! Well, they did. And I kinda like that they did.

The Ummah Masjid, the mosque on Chebucto, they’re organizing a coat drive to deliver warm winter coats to those in need. We should all ask ourselves honestly when the last time was that we engaged in a selfless act like this.

I’m learning a lot from Muslim friends and community leaders, and I learned a lot today. And I left the mosque with a sense of fellowship and of hope. Then I just learned that the Conservatives are setting up a hotline where you can snitch on your neighbours if they engage in barbaric cultural practices. Barbaric cultural practices like food drives and free winter coats?

I’d like to call in the barbaric cultural practice of not ensuring a woman has access to abortion in many parts of Canada, even if she’s been raped. Or the barbaric cultural practice of thinking a teenage girl has consented to sex when she’s vomiting out the window. Or the barbaric cultural practice of letting 1100 Indigenous women go missing or be murdered without our government asking the question “why?”.

If you have a warm coat, or if you have a little money to contribute, or if you want to volunteer, contact the kind folks organizing Coats for Humanity. Drop off your coat and stay a little while for some community and friendship. It is small but significant acts like this that can help push back the fear and hate.

~ Megan Leslie

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