Tamil midnight march shut Canada’s busiest highwayMay 12th, 2009 - 10:31 am ICT by IANS
By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 12 (IANS) Over 5,000 Tamils protesters shut down Canada’s busiest commuter route Gardiner Expressway Sunday night, throwing traffic into chaos for more than six hours and leaving many miles-long traffic lines.
The midnight march on Canada’s busiest highway infuriated the Ontario premier (chief minister) and the Toronto mayor who warned the protesters that occupying major roads will not be acceptable.
The highway blockade was lifted after midnight only when top Canadian leaders - opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff, New Democrat Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton - promised to raise the Sri Lankan issue in parliament.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the Tamils could protest at the provincial assembly near by but not on the busy the Gardiner Expressway. Toronto Mayor David Miller said “occupying the Gardiner Expressway is not acceptable, it is unsafe. We need the protestors to recognize that.”
He said: “The Tamil community needs to hear two things from us. First is, occupying roads like the Gardiner isn’t acceptable, and the police will prevent you from doing it and will remove you when you do.
“The second is that Torontonians understand that there needs to be an end to the hostilities in Sri Lanka and certainly understands the pain people feel.”
Waving the red flags of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the mostly young protesters shouted slogans to declare Sri Lanka a terrorist state.
They demanded Canada to intervene to stop the “genocide”‘ of the Tamils. Police forces from surrounding cities in the Greater Toronto Area were also called in to deal with the first-ever blockade of the expressway. Though the Tamils have been protesting in major thoroughfares of Toronto for almost months, they have never taken to blocking any road.
“This is a spontaneous reaction by the young people. Their protest is justified, but we don’t want the highway to be blocked and people inconvenienced,” said Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai who joined Toronto Police Bill Blair and others at midnight to urge the protesters to lift the blockade.
The Toronto area is home to 300,000 Tamils, the largest anywhere in the world outside of Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lanka's Tamil-Sinhala conflict echoes in Canada (With Images) - May 14, 2009
- Shah Rukh turns flirtatious in Toronto, wins over women - Jun 25, 2011
- Bollywood is magic, says Ontario Premier - Jun 24, 2011
- Anil Kapoor And Preity Zinta Promise IIFA Will Create Magic In Toronto - Jan 20, 2011
- IIFA will rock Toronto, say Anil Kapoor, Preity Zinta - Jan 20, 2011
- Toronto to hold mini-Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (With Image) - Nov 20, 2010
- Five Indian ministers at Toronto's mini-PBD - May 30, 2011
- Will IIFA influence Ontario elections? - Jun 25, 2011
- Kamal Nath to seek Canadian investment, meet Indian-born 'Warren Buffet' - Mar 21, 2010
- Torontonians expecting to face huge traffic headaches during G-20 - Jun 25, 2010
- Vayalar skips, Preneet Kaur to lead India at Pravasi Divas - Jun 08, 2011
- Jayalalithaa hailed for raising plight of Sri Lankan Tamils - Jun 09, 2011
- Canada announces 10-year visas for Indians (Lead) - Jun 10, 2011
- India asks diaspora to become partners in progress - Jun 10, 2011
- Stephen Hawking joins Canada's Perimeter Institute (Lead) - Jun 09, 2010
Tags: canadian leaders, commuter route, gardiner expressway toronto, greater toronto area, gurmukh, leader jack layton, liberal party leader, liberation tigers of tamil eelam, liberation tigers of tamil eelam ltte, mayor david miller, midnight march, ndp leader, new democrat party, premier dalton mcguinty, provincial assembly, red flags, spontaneous reaction, tamil community, toronto mayor david miller, traffic lines