The confrontational tone at the Ontario legislature softened and civility returned to question period a day after the Progressive Conservative government refused to respond to the official opposition when one of its member’s accents was allegedly mocked.
Tory House Leader Todd Smith addressed the media on Wednesday and said question period will resume as normal.
“We had an outstanding caucus meeting yesterday afternoon in this very room and a lot of our members spoke to the issue during question period yesterday,” Smith said.
“The caucus has decided that it is in the best interest of everyone going forward that we move ahead with our government’s agenda.”
Kaleed Rasheed, the PC member for Mississauga East—Cooksville, who was born in Pakistan, was asking a question Tuesday in the house on the cost of a referendum for eliminating Toronto city council seats when the alleged remarks were made.
Global News reviewed the audio multiple times but could not discern if the remarks occurred.
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson, who was accused of making the comments, said they did not come from his mouth.
VIDEO: Government house leader Todd Smith told the media Wednesday morning that Question Period at Queen’s Park will go forward, despite Smith’s claim that the NDP has not apologized for allegedly mocking the accent of PC MPP Kaleed Rasheed.
Rasheed told reporters prior to question period on Wednesday that he had spoken to the premier and expressed his desire to resume question period.
“At the end of the day, we are here for the people of Ontario,” Rasheed said.
“Therefore, I requested the premier and the Honourable House Leader, Minister Todd Smith, that we should continue with the question and answer period today and I really appreciate that they said, ‘That’s all good and let’s move on,’ and work for the people of Ontario,” Rasheed said.
VIDEO: Question Period resumes at Queen’s Park after chaotic Tuesday session. Shallima Maharaj reports.
Smith said he had hoped Bisson, who also serves as the NDP house leader, would offer an apology to Rasheed.
“I would hope that the Mr. Bisson comes across and at least clarify what he did say yesterday,” Smith said.
“I know that there, and we heard of a number of people of the government caucus spoke yesterday during our caucus meeting, they heard very, very clearly, 100 per cent certainty, what was said. So, it’s in the best interest of everyone involved that Mr. Bisson took the time to apologize to Mr. Rasheed.”
Prior to the start of question period, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Ted Arnott lectured the members on proper behaviour.
“The speaker has the power to name members and I’ve been reluctant to do that because that means that a member (who) has been named effectively loses their voice in the house for the day, and their constituents are thus silenced for the day, in terms of parliamentary debate,” Arnott said.
“However, I will name members if need be based on the fact that if their behaviour becomes unacceptable. But I will first issue a warning. One warning and if you’ve been warned, if I have to speak to you again, be assured you will be named.”
VIDEO: NDP MPP accused of mocking accent of PC MPP Kaleed Rasheed during question period
Rasheed, who said Tuesday he did not hear the remarks himself, addressed the house on the issue.
“Yesterday, Mr. Speaker I was deeply disappointed by the actions of one of the members of the official opposition in this house,” he said.
“I am proud to stand here today and state that our government and the people will not tolerate hate or racism of any kind, and it has no place within this legislature.”
At the end of the morning session, Bisson himself addressed the legislature on a point of order, but did not offer an apology to Rasheed.
“It’s pretty clear with this new premier and administration, the temperature of the house and the tone of the house, is very much changed,” Bisson said.
“I point out that the premier is not here today. It’s the best behaviour we’ve seen in a long time.”
It was not immediately known why the premier was not in attendance.
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