MacLeod Condemns Pro-Palestinian Marches Held In Ottawa

Barrhaven Independent reporter shoved into traffic during what was promoted as ‘peaceful demonstration’

By Charlie Senack

Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod is sounding the alarm over multiple pro-Palestine protests which have occurred around Ottawa for months as calls for a ceasefire in Gaza grow louder.

On Jan. 3, about 50 people gathered at the corner of Woodroffe and Baseline to protest the war in the Middle East, which broke out after terrorist group Hamas killed many innocent Jews and kidnapped others at a music festival on Oct. 7.

The demonstration was held near Loblaws at College Square, one of only a few grocery stores in Ottawa that has a large kosher section. Organizers insisted the location was chosen at random, and not because of the community’s large Jewish population.

On the platform X, formally known as Twitter, MacLeod didn’t hold back her views on the sidewalk protest.

“In a Jewish neighbourhood, at a Jewish owned shopping centre.  If Hamas supporters want to tell the truth, why don’t they start with why they are targeting this neighbourhood and terrorizing and isolating their neighbours,” MacLeod wrote. “I hope [Mayor] Mark Sutcliffe and Ottawa Police put the protection of the local neighbours as a high priority.”

Over half a dozen police were at the scene of the protest, but stood a far distance away from where the demonstrators held signs and banners reading “end the genocide in Gaza” and “Free Palestine.”

Some demonstrators tried to prevent members of the media from covering the event. The Barrhaven Independent was pushed multiple times into traffic and had flags blow into our face to block the view. One attendee said the event was supposed to be peaceful and welcoming to all.

For over 12 weeks pro-Palestine demonstrations have been held in Ottawa, primarily downtown and at Parliament Hill. During a March on Dec. 30, Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden was among nine people to be handed a $490 noise-violation ticket by Ottawa Bylaw.

Harden said he was using a small megaphone to advocate for human rights.

Local Palestinian supporters joined a protest at the corner of Fisher and Baseline, which is the main intersection near Ottawa’s largest Jewish community.
Charlie Senack photo

“I can understand that some may take issue with the noise of Palestinian protests. I imagine others would disagree with the chants and slogans used,” Harden said in a letter to the mayor and members of city council. “But neither of these things justifies an edict against amplification, or an unnecessarily large security presence. This has to stop.”

Harden said Ottawa Bylaw needs to take a more “constructive approach” when it comes to enforcement at Palestine gatherings. “Our world is in a precarious moment; wars are raging, and emotions are running high, tearing at the fabric of societies everywhere. Ottawa is no exception,” he said.

Roger Chapman, director of Bylaw and Regulatory Services, said ByLaw was on hand to address nuisance-related issues that would disturb the community.

“It’s important to note that enforcement during demonstrations is a result of escalated actions by the participants, which may pose nuisance and public safety issues,” Chapman wrote in a statement. “Since the beginning of the protests, BLRS has been working with organizers to educate them on the city’s bylaws. As the activities of protestors escalated and became more frequent, including the defacement of property, the use of sound reproduction devices, smoke bombs, fireworks, and threats towards our officers, BLRS took action to address these concerns.”

In cases like Hardens, Chapman said warnings were issued requesting the stoppage of using sound production devices. When they were not complied with, then the fines of $490 were issued.

MPP MacLeod bashed Harden on X saying he doesn’t support the rights of demonstrators who don’t share his views.

“You associate with antisemites,” MacLeod wrote in a tweet to Harden. “You pick and choose who has human rights. And clearly you decide who gets to protest loudly downtown and who doesn’t.”

MacLeod also shared her solidarity with Ottawa’s Jewish community.

“No matter the size of Joel Harden’s megaphone it will never compare to the calibre of the individuals who have made Ottawa a great welcoming city. We’re with you,” said MacLeod.

The Nepean MPP referenced an open letter signed by many local faith leaders who condemned the rise in antisemitic incidents. Ottawa Police said that since the Gaza area conflict began to unfold on Oct. 7, there have been 64 hate crimes reported as of Nov. 6 — 50 of which were deemed criminal. That is compared to 41 reports during the same period last year.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ, who specializes in employment, labour, and human rights, was against the tickets being distributed.

“This is an affront to our deepest and most important democratic values: the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” he wrote on X. “A ticket for using a megaphone for a couple of hours on a public street to protest against a horrific war? Unacceptable.”