Yes, that's Malhi in the middle holding the microphone. (While the Hindu Priest Association guys on the left may provide Malhi with a tiny bit of plausible deniability, it really stretches credulity when you factor in the huge LTTE flag practically smacking him in his face and the guy to the right gesturing with a creepy martial salute.)
“I’d like to let you know I’m helping you guys. I’m behind you because you are fighting for a right cause,” Malhi proclaimed, to cheers and applause. When he had concluded his feckless remarks, he passed the microphone to one of the event organizers who exhorted the crowd, leading them in a rally chant of "Freedom Fighters, Tamil Tigers!"
Here is the video from Youtube.
(Of course, as a post-Trudeaupian Liberal, Malhi simply couldn't resist a little gratuitous pandering to the identity-politics agenda of immigration-sponsorship activists. No surprises there.)
Naturally, Malhi's shameful exhibitionism landed him in a little hot water, when it became the subject of derision from the government benches on the floor of the House of Commons.
First there was Peter Kent ...
During Question Period, Peter Kent, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs said he was “sickened by the pandering of a Liberal member on the front lawn of Parliament to a flagrant display of the symbols of a listed terrorist organization.”
... then Jason Kenney ...
Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, told reporters that while there was nothing illegal about the demonstration it was “highly inappropriate” for an MP to make an appearance.
“We should not be encouraging public manifestations of support for a terrorist organization,” the Minister said, “in this instance one that has been condemned by UNICEF for their practice of recruiting child soldiers and forcing them into military service and an organization that invented the tactic of suicide bombings and is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.”
... and then the gobsmacked Gurbax Singh Malhi's Forrest Gump defense ...
Asked about the many Tamil Tigers flags visible at the event, he replied: “I came out of the bus, I don’t even know. I don’t even notice anything.”
Either Malhi is the most clueless parliamentarian in the current class, or he's being disingenuous. (Of course, these two options are not mutually exclusive.) Liberal M.P.s were in fact invited to attend this rally. The invitation was extended by the event organizers, and sent via email by the parliamentary assistant to Derek Lee, M.P. (Liberal - Scarborough-Rouge River) in good faith. Malhi seems to have been the only M.P. who actually ventured over to 'check out' the rally. The email includes this qualifier:
The group's object is to have Tamils come together, not under the alleged auspices of LTTE affiliates. Nor are they aligned with the LTTE and its affiliates. The group have concerns about the LTTE and primarily wish to highlight their identity as Tamil Canadians. In this respect, Mr. Lee feels that they are deserving of an indication of support.
That disclaimer takes up almost half of the entire email note. Now, it is possible that the LTTE supporters effectively co-opted the rally from its otherwise benign purpose, and Malhi simply wasn't given a proper "heads up." But, in light of the abundance of Tamil Tiger flags and signs at the rally, and the protest chant of "Freedom Fighters, Tamil Tigers," the point seems a little moot. There is no excuse for Malhi not to have realized what he was walking into. And taking the microphone was just the icing on the cake.
(The protest signs read: "LTTE Fights for Freedom in Sri Lanka." The Tamil Tiger (LTTE) flags are prominent and plentiful throughout the crowd. But Gurbax Singh Malhi had no idea the Tamil Tigers were involved in the rally in any way. Right. That's a little bit hard to swallow.)
So far, there is still no indication of Michael Ignatieff's response to the latest episode of "M.P.s Behaving Badly." He recently gave the Bloc Newfoundlandois a pass for breaking party ranks on the budget vote. And then there's the sometimes embarrassing matter of his war-room pit bull. It seems unlikely, therefore, that there will be any serious public consequence resulting from the embarrassing self-beclowning of the M.P. for Bramalea-Gore-Malton.