Two days after an Ontario Liberal Party MPP was blocked by some in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario caucus from trying to introduce a motion condemning Islamophobia, representatives from all parties backed the measure early Saturday.
“In the opinion of the house, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario condemns all acts of violence and terrorism against people of the Muslim faith and reaffirms its condemnation of all forms of Islamophobia and its support for the Anti-Racism Directorate,” Kaleed Rasheed, the PC MPP for Mississauga East—Cooksville, read out in the legislature during a rare late-night sitting just ahead of a debate on invoking the notwithstanding clause over election finance laws.
The measure was quickly voted on and approved unanimously by MPPs from all four political parties.
On Thursday, Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter stood up in the Ontario and tried to get permission from all political parties to introduce the following: “I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice condemning all forms of Islamophobia and reaffirming the Legislature’s support for the Anti-Racism Directorate and that the question be put immediately.”
However, one or more Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MPPs disagreed on a vote where members were asked to respond verbally. It wasn’t immediately clear who exactly was against the proposal. The Liberals subsequently slammed the move.
“Doug Ford’s Conservative caucus blocked what should have been a simple, meaningful motion for the Muslim community and now they’re hiding behind procedure — it’s inexcusable,” a brief party statement said.
The push came after a London, Ont., family out for a walk were killed in an attack that police alleged was hate-motivated because they were Muslim.
Thousands attended vigils in London on Tuesday in honour of the family, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ontario PC MPPs and provincial opposition party leaders. A follow-up march in London was held on Friday.
“We are all shaken by this act. We were left trying to understand how this can happen in a beautiful country and a beautiful province like Ontario. We know only that this awful crime was motivated purely by hatred and racism,” Ford said Tuesday evening while extending his sympathies to the family.
He went on to call the attack “an act of terrorism” against the family.
“This type of racism and terrorism cannot and will not be tolerated. We must stand united against it. It must be condemned in the strongest terms of those who commit this type of evil must and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Ford said.
When asked about the decision to reject Hunter’s push to introduce a motion condemning Islamophobia, a spokesperson for Ontario Government House Leader Paul Calandra said the party has a standing practice of rejecting motions that weren’t shared in advance. The spokesperson said the government still didn’t received the wording of the motion as of the end of Thursday.
“We would have had only moments while it was being read to consider whether it was appropriate recognition of the events which occurred in London,” Owen Macri said in a previous statement.
He went on to highlight a motion unanimously adopted by all parties in the Ontario legislature in 2017 while the Liberals were still in government that condemned Islamophobia in response to a shooting at the Quebec City mosque that left six dead and 19 injured.
On Thursday, it was Rasheed who sought unanimous consent for representatives to make statements and to hold a moment of silence.
A day later, Calandra called on Liberal leader Steven Del Duca to apologize for the move. Earlier in the day, Del Duca said the party would join with other parties to help pass the motion.
As for how it was determined Rasheed would introduce the measure and how the motion wording differed from what Hunter might have proposed, Macri didn’t directly answer the question. However, he told Global News in a brief statement early Saturday that the PCs “gave notice to the opposition parties of Mr. Rasheed’s intent to move this motion.”
“We are pleased that it passed unanimously,” Macri wrote.
Representatives for the Ontario Liberal Party were unavailable for comment early Saturday.
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