Sri Lanka should open the northern part of the country to journalists, aid workers and international observers, but the bloodshed and unrest in that country does not justify Tamil-Canadians taking over a busy highway for six hours, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.
Thousands of Tamil protesters forced their way past police Sunday afternoon and marched onto the elevated Gardiner Expressway, trapping dozens of motorists and forcing police to close it and the Don Valley Parkway for up to six hours.
The rage and frustration over Sri Lanka’s civil war boiled over after reports that an all-night artillery barrage in the country’s war zone killed more than 370 people and forced thousands to flee to makeshift shelters along the beach.
“My daughter worked in Sri Lanka for close to a year as an aid worker, so I have some understanding of the nature of the challenges,” McGuinty said.
“I understand the passions which are here, but having said that, there is a right way and a wrong way to protest.”
A small handful of Tamil protesters were gathered on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature yesterday, which is exactly the place McGuinty said they should take their concerns rather than blocking city streets.
“They’re always welcome to protest on the front lawn of Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill,” he said.
However, other Tamil protesters were gathered outside the Sri Lankan consulate in Toronto and police blocked off a section of University Avenue, just south of the legislature, in an apparent bid to prevent another protest from forming outside the U.S. Consulate.
A series of Tamil protests had closed the busy downtown thoroughfare for more than three days in late April.
McGuinty also said he was not going to second-guess police who closed the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway for up to six hours Sunday to accommodate the protesters.