Volume 95, Issue 4

Thursday, June 14, 2001


London's bad air is deadly: Armstrong

Bookstore branches off-campus

Program targets anti-gay violence

Premier Harris labelled murderer

News Briefs

New biotech centre founded

We're 7th best: Area health care ranks high

Premier Harris labelled murderer
Tories met with protest in London

By Chris Lackner 
Gazette Staff

London's Convention Centre was the scene of two colliding worlds on Monday night.

Inside the building, Ontario Premier Mike Harris hosted the annual Premier's dinner in front of 330 Tory politicians and supporters.

Outside, a group of protesters greeted the party faithful with their own boisterous message — that the party's policies have been detrimental to the under-privileged of Ontario.

“Murderers” some yelled, concerning the perceived damage the Tory cutbacks have inflicted upon the poor. One sign stated: “Ontario — open for business, closed to the people.”

Jeremy McNaughton, a member of the London Activist Network, which helped organize the protest, said the group of approximately 150 protesters came to express their growing frustration with the Harris government.

The protesters were made up of union members, students, concerned citizens, anti-poverty organizations and members of the local chapter of the Council for Canadians, he explained.

Inside, at the $275 a plate dinner, Harris delivered a speech to the audience which praised the Tory's success in making hard decisions, which he claimed has put Ontario back on its feet. 

“Before 1995 [the Tory's first electoral victory], government measured success by how many people we've hired and the amount of money they spent. We were elected to change the philosophy of big government.”

The premier said it has been the Tory philosophy of fiscal accountability, cutting taxes, balancing budgets and creating jobs which has saved Ontario from economic ruin.

Jesse Greener, VP-external for Western's Society of Graduate Students, said those upset with the Harris government are not divided interest groups. “We are united in fighting the cuts we have seen across society,” he said. “There needs to be a severing of the corporate interests within politics.”

“I'm here because I'm a mother currently on welfare and I don't have enough to feed my son,” said Karen McCaffery, a London resident. “[Harris] has been attacking teachers, union members and the lower classes.”

The large influx of police officers, who surrounded the entrances of the Convention Centre, were present to protect the safety of both protesters and delegates, said Mark Lemon, staff sergeant for the London Police. “We're here to keep the peace,” he added.

“There are those who continue to oppose us,” Harris said during the dinner function. “We want the first priority of companies to be paying wages, not paying taxes. There are those that don't understand that.”<

Earlier in the day, Harris announced a $32 million donation to the City of London towards infrastructure costs. At the press conference that followed he said the expected protesters were more a by-product of partisan politics than a sign of dissatisfaction with any particular Tory policy.

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