The next chief of Alberta’s human rights commission, Collin May, wrote “Islam is not a peaceful religion misused by radicals. Rather, it is one of the most militaristic religions known to man,” among several other questionable remarks in his glowing 2009 review of Islamic Imperialism: A History by British-Israeli historian Efraim Karsh in C2C Journal.
Screenshot from a Youtube video where Collin May shared his thoughts on his appointment to the role of chief of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
May was appointed to his five-year term as the leader of the commission in May by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and officially takes over on July 14. The commission’s mandate is to foster equality and reduce discrimination in Alberta.
May also wrote that, "Islam seems unable to make peace with its neighbours," and, "Of all the world’s major religions, none is at the center of as much controversy today as Islam. Wherever it comes in contact with other religions, a political storm arises." Throughout his review, May emphasizes his agreement with Karsh that Islam is “an imperialistic religion seeking universal dominion over the whole earth” and that this Muslim lust for world domination “tends to be the prominent driving force in politics and one accompanied by a great degree of wilful violence.”
“My major concern is that it projects a very negative and stereotypical view of an entire community based on an understanding of Islam that is not correct,” said Sadique Pathan, an Imam at Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton.
“The Muslim world is not monolithic. But this article makes it us versus them. It’s binary thinking that is very convenient for people who engage in Islamophobia or outright racist views towards Muslims,” said Pathan.
“The whole thing is laced in tone and word with falsehoods, stereotypes and the kind of stuff that actually contributes to Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims,” said Faisal Bhabha, an associate professor of law at York University who served on the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario between 2008 and 2011.
“It’s impossible to think that this person could be effective at combating Islamophobia or even interested in understanding Islamophobia,” said Bhabha.
Before his appointment as chief, May sat on the commission for three years. May got the gig as part of a sweeping series of appointments in 2019 as the UCP expelled dozens of agency, board and commission members who were appointed under the former NDP government. Political commentators at the time criticized the sweep as a mass of patronage appointments, noting that many were former UCP donors.
According to his biography, May is a private wealth and corporate services lawyer specializing in estate planning and wills as well as municipal and agricultural law. Between 2013 and 2018 an individual by the name of Collin May donated more than $10,000 to the Conservative Party of Canada. In 2015 an individual by the name of Collin May donated $2000 to the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta. An individual by the name of Collin May also donated $425 to the PC leadership campaign of Jason Kenney in 2017.
May was called to the bar in Alberta in 2010 after getting his law degree from Dalhousie University in 2009. Before becoming chief of the AHRC, May received several appointments from conservative federal and provincial governments. Just a year after being called to the bar May was helping the conservative government of Stephen Harper decide on judges as the representative of the federal justice minister on the Alberta Judicial Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2016.
May was also appointed to the board of directors of Farm Credit Canada in 2013 by the government of Stephen Harper and just stepped down from his UCP appointment as a member of the Provincial Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
The article with May’s remarks about Islam was published in C2C Journal, the same publication where Kenney’s former speechwriter, Paul Bunner, called residential schools a “bogus genocide story.” The publication encourages writers to “push boundaries, challenge orthodoxies and advance arguments rooted in the values and principles of classical liberalism and western civilization.”
Earlier today May provided this response. “I commit to continuing my personal education about Islam, and all faiths, in my role as Chief,” says May in his statement. May does not apologize for his former statements, but attests that he presently “does not believe or accept the characterization of Islam as a militant religion or movement.”
“Working with representatives from the National Council of Canadian Muslims, I will be meeting with leaders in Alberta’s Muslim community to learn more about their lived experiences in Alberta and to work towards overcoming discrimination against the Islamic community,” May’s statement reads.
We've received a statement from the National Council of Canadian Muslims. It is posted below in its entirety.
"We are deeply concerned by the troubling views about Islam once expressed in the form of a book review by Collin May, the newly appointed Chief of Alberta’s Human Rights Commission. Amplifying misconceptions about Islam by an individual vested with authority serves to create mistrust and casts suspicion on Muslim communities throughout Canada.
This comes at a time when Muslims in Alberta, especially Black Muslim women, have been under threat and facing unprecedented violence.
The Chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission further carries a high level of responsibility to be an ambassador for human rights, dignity, and equality.
All too often Muslim communities have rightly and correctly complained of systemic discrimination and bias. We feel that the incorrect and problematic views expressed in the book review contribute to the marginalization and isolation of religious minority communities.
NCCM has engaged in good-faith meetings with Collin May and other individuals from the Alberta government on this issue. We understand that Mr. May has also expressed a willingness in meeting with Muslim community members and organizations to learn more about Islam, and that his views have evolved since this initial review.
A true apology must be a commitment to ongoing action and a true commitment to making amends. As Mr. May engages with Muslim communities in Alberta, we will let our communities be the arbiter of his good faith efforts and sincerity by engaging in further conversations with our communities. In other words, we are not accepting an apology today.
NCCM will be engaging further on this matter, and we will share further updates soon."