The Ontario Liberal leader expressed outrage Thursday after the Ford government blocked a motion by one of his MPPs calling on the legislature to unanimously condemn Islamophobia.
The controversy comes after four members of a family were killed and one was injured on Sunday when they were run down by a driver in a pickup truck in London, Ont. Local police say it was deliberate attack inspired by the victims’ Muslim faith. The tragedy has triggered an outpouring of grief and anger across Canada.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez, survived and remains in hospital. A funeral has been planned for Saturday afternoon.
“Doug Ford’s Conservatives just blocked a motion from Ontario Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter condemning Islamophobia. Unbelievable,” Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Doug Ford’s Conservatives just blocked a motion from <a href=”https://twitter.com/OntLiberal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@OntLiberal</a> MPP <a href=”https://twitter.com/MitzieHunter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MitzieHunter</a> condemning Islamophobia. Unbelievable.
“To win our fight against Islamophobia and all hateful acts our words must become actions. We should be able to get a motion condemning Islamophobia passed at Queen’s Park. It’s the least we can do after the act of terror in London,” Del Duca added later on Twitter.
But Paul Calandra, the government house leader, issued a statement Thursday afternoon defending the PC decision to block Hunter’s motion and accusing the Liberals of “playing politics.”
“It is very disappointing that the Liberal Party is playing politics with something as serious as Islamophobia,” Calandra’s statement reads.
“The Liberals are falsely claiming that the government has voted against a motion condemning Islamophobia. That is totally untrue,” he writes.
“What happened today was a Liberal MPP, with no notice, tried to surprise the government with a motion that we still have not seen. It is our policy to turn down all requests for unanimous consent that we have not seen in advance.”
Calandra notes that the Ontario legislature “unanimously adopted a motion condemning Islamophobia” in 2017.
“If the Liberals are serious about this, they are well aware that surprise motions in the legislature are not the way to do this. They should reach out and work with the government, the NDP, and the Green Party especially on an issue of importance such as this, as we have done in the past.”
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the incident in London.
Veltman appeared in court via video link from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre on Thursday morning and asked to apply for legal aid.