Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak held a press conference outside his office in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, August 22
Credits: JACK BOLAND/QMI AGENCY
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak called out Speaker Dave Levac and Sergeant-At-Arms Dennis Clark on Wednesday for their decision to allow a group of radical Muslims to rally on the lawn outside the Legislature last Saturday.
The event was held to mark Al-Quds Day, an annual event started by late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the destruction of Israel and the rising up of a Palestinian state.
The final decision to green-light the previously scheduled rally came after a last-minute meeting last week between Levac and Clark. The two were forced to review the rally application following outrage by various Jewish groups that the rally had been approved in the first place. They later gave it their personal assent.
One group was the militant Jewish Defence League, whose membership vowed to meet the Al-Quds demonstrators head-on at Queen's Park.
Opponents of the rally cited at least one speaker at last year's demonstration who called Israeli nationalists "oppressors and criminals," as well as several demonstrators who waved the flags of Hezbollah, a Middle-Eastern terrorist group.
Hudak said Queen's Park should not have been used for such an event.
"It shouldn't have happened," Hudak said. "It just hits me in the gut that you could have in the background Queen's Park - the church of democracy in Ontario - and have a demonstration calling for the destruction of Israel. That kind of anti-Semitic hatred has no place in our province, and certainly no place on the lawns of Queen's Park."
Hudak added that while he knows "we're not supposed to disagree with the speaker, we're not in the legislature right now," and that "it was wrong" for the rally to go ahead.
On Tuesday, Clark defended the decision to let the rally proceed, noting there weren't any serious incidents of violence, and that he and Levac were happy with the outcome.
And besides, Clark added, the Al-Quds demonstrators probably would have come, anyway - approval or not.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're pleased it turned out the way it did," Clark said. "It was a very volatile issue they were speaking about, but they all kept to their own groups ... (And) keep in mind that if an application is not approved, there is a 99% chance that this group is going to come anyway."
-With files by Jonathan Jenkins