The Ford government is denying claims it voted against a motion condemning Islamophobia during an emergency session of the legislature on Thursday night.
Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter tweeted that she asked for unanimous consent of the legislature to condemn all forms of Islamophobia and to reaffirm support for the Anti-Racism Directorate and that the government “said NO.”
The motion comes in the wake of a deadly attack against a Muslim family in London, Ont., which left four people dead and sent a child to hospital with serious injuries.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the attack which police say was a planned and premeditated act that targeted Muslims.
Government house leader Paul Calandra called Hunter’s accusation “totally untrue.”
“It is very disappointing that the Liberal Party is playing politics with something as serious as Islamophobia,” Calandra said in a statement.
“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 pointed out that in 2017, under the previous Liberal government, the legislature unanimously adopted a motion condemning Islamophobia in the wake of the Quebec mosque shooting that left six dead and injured 19 others.
“If the Liberals are serious about this, they are well aware that surprise motions in the Legislature are not the way to do this,” he said. “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.”
Cody Welton, the deputy chief of staff within Doug Ford’s office, responded to a tweet from journalist Fatima Syed by questioning why Hunter was playing “disingenuous political games with something so serious?”
“She didn’t make the gov aware of the motion which is custom,” he responded in a tweet, reiterating what Calandra had previously stated.
“We had no content or copy, we would have worked with them and the community. Instead she moved it without sharing knowing the gov would say no so she could make a baseless accusation implying the gov is Islamophobic.”
Ontario legislators were called back to Queen’s Park from summer break for a marathon sitting on Thursday as the Ford government prepares to invoke the notwithstanding clause to restore parts of a law that restricts third-party election advertising.
A judge struck down sections of the law earlier this week but the Progressive Conservative government said it would restore them through new legislation that includes the clause, which allows legislatures to override portions of the charter for five years.
Legislators will hold an overnight debate in the early hours of Saturday and continue proceedings on Sunday afternoon, with a vote on the bill expected on Monday evening, said Government House Leader Paul Calandra.
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report