Liberal MP Slammed For Appearance At Tamil Tigers Rally

Liberal MP slammed for appearance at Tamil Tigers rally

By Stewart Bell
National Post
Posted: March 05, 2009, 7:09 PM by Chris Boutet

A Liberal MP was criticized Thursday for speaking at a rally on Parliament Hill surrounded by flags bearing the militaristic emblem of the Tamil Tigers, a banned terrorist organization in Canada.

A video posted on YouTube shows Gurbax Singh Malhi, MP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, telling demonstrators waving Tamil Tigers flags that, Id like to let you know Im helping you guys. Im behind you because you are fighting for a right cause.

The protesters then chanted: freedom fighters, Tamil Tigers.

During Question Period, Peter Kent, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs said he was sickened by the pandering of a Liberal member on the front lawn of Parliament to a flagrant display of the symbols of a listed terrorist organization.

Reached by phone last night, Mr. Malhi said he had not planned to speak at the rally but was passing by and decided to say a few words.

He said his comments concerned the plight of civilians caught in fighting between the Sri Lankan forces and the Tamil Tigers.

My concern is innocent people, you know. They are killing the civilians, he said. I just came out of the bus and I think whats happening?

My concern are civilians, where the human rights violation is happening, Im against that, but I have nothing to do with anybody, I dont know anybody who was there, I dont know the name of the people who were there.

Asked about the many Tamil Tigers flags visible at the event, he replied: I came out of the bus, I dont even know. I dont even notice anything.

Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, told reporters that while there was nothing illegal about the demonstration it was highly inappropriate for an MP to make an appearance.

We should not be encouraging public manifestations of support for a terrorist organization, the Minister said, in this instance one that has been condemned by UNICEF for their practice of recruiting child soldiers and forcing them into military service and an organization that invented the tactic of suicide bombings and is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

The Tamil Tigers are separatist guerrillas fighting for independence for Sri Lankas ethnic Tamil minority. The group has been widely condemned for its suicide bombings, political assassinations and recruitment of children.

The Sri Lankan government has also been condemned by human rights groups for practices that include indiscriminate shelling of areas where civilians are present, the disappearance of Tamils and media repression.

National Post with files from David Akin, Canwest News Service