Nothing like a good distraction after a particularly tough session in Ontario’s legislature.
Premier Ford and his finance minister Vic Fedili claim to have heard NDP House leader Gilles Bisson “mocking” rookie MPP for Mississauga-East Kaleed Rasheed’s Pakistani accent.
No one else heard it, but it was enough to disrupt the legislature’s daily question period.
Both Bisson and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath denied the accusation.
Horwath went so far as to accuse Ford of “lying through his teeth” to deflect attention from the government’s controversial cuts to Toronto council.
Speaker Ted Arnott, who recessed the House for five minutes to calm things down, did not hear the alleged slur, which was inaudible in the press gallery or on video.
Despite all this House Leader Todd Smith, who also didn’t catch anything untoward, said the Tories would refuse to answer any NDP questions until the official opposition apologized.
“It’s reprehensible that a member was treated in this way. We won’t stand for it. Unless we get some kind of apology … I wouldn’t expect that we’ll be answering any questions from the official opposition,” he said.
“He’s imitating him. It’s racist,” the premier heckled, before yelling in the direction of Brampton Centre New Democrat MPP Sara Singh.
“Do you enjoy your MPP imitating the Indian accent?” Ford thundered at Singh.
But Kaleed Rasheed is Pakistani, although in mainstream Canada such distinctions hardly matter. All brown people are South Asian, which means all come from one geographical area and have funny accents.
Rasheed immigrated to Canada from Pakistan 14 years ago and does have an accent. But then again so do many of the rookie first time MPPs of South Asian descent. Perhaps accent reduction classes or public speaking classes could help them become more eloquent and effective in the legislature? -CINEWS