Don't just rely on government to combat hate crime, Trudeau says at Hamilton mosque

Canadians can't rely on the government to combat hate crime — citizens have to play their part too, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at Hamilton Mountain Mosque on Tuesday morning.  

Hamilton imams are optimistic after meeting with prime minister

'This community has never been afraid of a little hard work and neither am I,' Trudeau said before leaving the Hamilton Mountain Mosque on Tuesday. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Canadians can't rely on the government to combat hate crime — citizens have to play their part too, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at Hamilton Mountain Mosque on Tuesday morning. 

Trudeau said recent incidents — such as the June vehicle attack of a London, Ont., family, and more recently the alleged attack on two Hamilton Muslim women by the driver of a truck — are "unacceptable and scary."

He was at the mosque gathering during the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Adha, which began Monday.

During his remarks, Trudeau also referenced homophobia, misogyny and anti-semitism as examples of hate that shouldn't be tolerated.

"We need all of us — Muslim, non-Muslim — to recognize that the intolerance and hatred that exists around the world also exists in Canada," he said. 

But "it won't be enough just for governments to act — even a federal government. It needs to be all Canadians.

"As much as the counter to that ought to be government passing another law — and we will — the counter to that should come from our communities, our cities," said Trudeau.

"This community has never been afraid of a little hard work, and neither am I. We will roll up our sleeves together."

WATCH: Trudeau says all Canadians need to fight Islamophobia:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says combating Islamophobia is the responsibility of every Canadian

1 year ago
Duration 3:03
Trudeau says that the government will do what it can to fight Islamophobia, but Canadians also have a duty to call it out when they see it.

Speaking to reporters in the afternoon, he urged people to call out discrimination when they see it and stand with those who are afraid. He encouraged people reach out to community groups to find out ways to help.

Trudeau's visit comes days after Hamilton Police Service say a mom and daughter were targeted in a hate crime that involved someone uttering anti-Muslim slurs.

The imam of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque, Kamal Gurgi, said the two women are his wife and daughter.

Police say a woman, 62, and daughter, 26, were in an Ancaster Meadowlands parking lot on July 12 when they were almost hit by a driver pulling out of a parking spot.

As the women walked away, the driver allegedly started chasing them in his truck. 

A Cambridge, Ont., man now faces a number of charges, including assault with a weapon.

Imams believe PM taking Islamophobia seriously

Gurgi initially said the federal government didn't take enough action to thwart Islamophobia, but now has more optimism after meeting with Trudeau.

He said the prime minister promised to speed up the mosque's application to beef up security.

"I sensed his honesty and seriousness," Gurgi said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon.

Imam Kamal Gurgi stood outside of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque days after police said someone threatened to kill his wife and daughter. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

He also said he agrees with Trudeau's comments that government cannot fight racism alone.

Trudeau's visit to Hamilton follows the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) release of 60 policy recommendations to combat hate and racism across the country.

Imam Sayed Tora, of the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, said Tuesday he also met with Trudeau.

Tora echoed Gurgi's optimism and said people shouldn't be fearful because the government, police and their faith will protect them.

Ottawa previously announced an emergency national summit on Islamophobia set for July 22.

328 residential units set for Ontario

Trudeau also announced the government will build 328 rental units across southern Ontario, including 95 in Hamilton, 72 in London, 68 in Mississauga, 50 in Simcoe and 43 in Kitchener.

He said the units will have an energy-efficient passive housing design, which will be better for the environment and have lower operating costs, translating into more affordable units.

Cost is pegged at about $5 million.

Trudeau made the announcement at Indwell's Royal Oak Dairy project in the lower city's Landsdale neighbourhood.

Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, also MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, and Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development, joined him.

It comes as locals have complained about soaring home prices and rising rent costs in recent years.

The NDP, meanwhile, said in a media release that the Liberals haven't done enough to make housing more affordable in Canada.

The party said the Liberals need to propose a vacant non-resident home tax of more than one per cent and address money laundering in the real estate sector.

With files from Samantha Craggs