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Ford government, Liberals still sniping over motion to condemn Islamophobia

The Ford government and the opposition Liberals continued to snipe at each other Friday over an on-again, off-again motion to condemn Islamophobia — in the wake of the attack in London that killed four members of a Muslim family.

Liberals 'attempting to politicize' issue to get boost in polls, government house leader says

Flowers lie on the steps of the London Islamic Centre in an outpouring of support shown for the city's Muslim community in the wake of Sunday's hit and run attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

The Ford government and the opposition Liberals continued to snipe at each other Friday over an on-again, off-again motion to condemn Islamophobia — in the wake of the attack in London that killed four members of a Muslim family.

Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter first put forward the motion, which calls on the Ontario legislature to unanimously condemn Islamophobia, on Thursday. The Progressive Conservatives blocked it, saying the Liberals tried to take them by surprise and that the government does not agree to motions it hasn't seen beforehand.

Then, the Liberals said all parties agreed the motion would be put forward again Friday and passed. But at some point in the early hours of Friday, that agreement fell off the table.

In a morning news release, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said: "It was appalling that Doug Ford's Conservatives blocked a simple but meaningful motion to condemn Islamophobia, which shouldn't be up for debate in Ontario." 

Paul Calandra, the government house leader, then demanded Del Duca apologize for "lying to the people of Ontario and attempting to politicize Islamophobia to give his party a boost in the polls."

"The Liberals know that they failed to provide any notice to the government of this motion. Had the government known what Ms. Hunter was bringing forward we would have certainly supported it," Calandra said.

In a statement to CBC News, Calandra's office said the Liberals had agreed they would "clarify that they had not given us any notice of this motion and we would be working together to get a motion passed. As you can see instead this morning Mr. Del Duca chose to press forward with his dishonest claims. The Liberals need to put the partisan politics aside."

The motion was blocked again Friday. Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter will again seek unanimous support for the motion Saturday.

The recriminations come just days after four members of a family were killed and one was injured in London, Ont. on Sunday, June 6. Police say they were run down by the driver of a pickup truck in a 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. 

Dozens participate in a 'Walk Against Hate' in Toronto to show support for Muslim communities after Sunday's hit and run attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont. (Oliver Walters/CBC)

Meantime, dozens participated in a "Walk Against Hate" in Toronto to show support for the family. 

"Although we were not in London when that heinous crime happened, we all feel the pain and the anger, the anxiety and the fear," Irshad Osman from the Danforth Islamic Centre said at the walk on Friday

"I would like to see the Canadian government recognize this as a public issue ... not making this as political rhetoric."

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