Tamil community in Toronto to stage another protest outside legislature

TORONTO - Toronto police are warning of further disruptions to the city during a Tamil community protest at the Ontario legislature Wednesday.

TORONTO - Toronto police are warning of further disruptions to the city during a Tamil community protest at the Ontario legislature Wednesday.

The protest comes after a flood of Tamil demonstrators rushed onto the busy Gardiner Expressway and blocked the highway for several hours Sunday night.

Politicians have expressed sympathy with their cause and their desire to end fighting in their homeland, but condemned the highway blockade.

"When it comes to expressing those concerns, there's a right way and a wrong way," Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday.

"I would encourage the Tamil community to take full advantage of the lawful means by which you can express those concerns. You can't block highways. You endanger others and you endanger yourself."

McGuinty said protesters are welcome on the front lawn of the legislature, which is where thousands of people are expected to converge Wednesday around noon.

The highway crowd eventually dispersed after several hours Sunday, but a small contingent of protesters has remained at the Ontario legislature, some of them waving controversial flags.

The red flags, hundreds of which have been flown at recent rallies, feature a tiger jumping through a ring of fire under two crossed rifles. A senior cabinet minister remarked Monday that the logo represents the Tamil Tigers, considered by Canada to be a banned terrorist organization.

"I noticed in the coverage of the demonstrations over the weekend that Tamil Tiger flags were being flown, which would say to Canadians that ... the terrorist organization is part of the demonstrations that happened," said International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda.

But while similar, the flags flown at the demonstrations are those of the secessionist Tamil Eelam movement and not the terrorist group, a protest spokesman said.

McGuinty encouraged those attending Wednesday's protest to leave those flags at home.

"I would prefer that they not (fly them)," he said. "I don't think that helps their cause."

Toronto police are advising motorists to take alternate routes Wednesday around the legislature as they anticipate the demonstration will cause traffic tie-ups.

The demonstrators want the Canadian government to press for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, where they say fighting has killed thousands of civilians, though the figures cannot be verified.

 
 
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