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'I just went out to listen': Sask. MPs defend picture taken at Ottawa convoy protest


Saskatchewan Conservative politicians are coming under fire on social media after a picture of them at the protest in Ottawa was tweeted on Wednesday night.

The photo shows Saskatchewan conservative MPs Andrew Scheer, Rosemarie Falk, Kevin Waugh, Warren Steinley, and Fraser Tolmie, as well as Senator Denise Batters standing in front of a truck with a Saskatchewan flag.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson sent a tweet of his own Wednesday night — calling the photo an "absolute disgrace" while demanding an apology from the group.

“These should be respected public servants, they understand what our city is going through; the chaos, the turmoil, the stress, particularly the residential areas, and to go out there and do selfies in front of the convoy is salt in the wound,” Watson told CTV News.

Watson says the community of Ottawa is "under siege" with residents being harassed on the streets reports of racism and slurs, as well as protestors pulling masks off of people and threatening to not wear masks in businesses.

“People can't get to sleep, and to have these members of parliament and I believe one senator, come and mug for the cameras is absolutely disgraceful,” he said.

Conservative MP from Saskatoon-Grasswood said he simply wanted to listen to protestors, something he did when one of the convoys bound for Ottawa gathered in Saskatoon.

“It started in Saskatoon, I just went out to listen to their concerns, and then last night in Ottawa a number of our Saskatchewan caucus went out and listened,” said Waugh.

“There is a number of Saskatchewan truckers and supporters here and from all over the province — I've seen them from St. Breaux to Foam Lake, and just a number of us last night just went over to listen to them. That's all we did last night.”

While Waugh wouldn’t say whether or not he supported the convoy, Regina-Lewvan MP Warren Steinley confirmed he does.

“I support people coming to Ottawa and us listening to them, I think that's what that was about,” he said, adding there will be no apology and he doesn’t think it’s disgraceful to talk to people.

“I think they want their message to be heard, their frustration, and the fact that they're still here can be laid directly at the feet of Justin Trudeau.”

In an emailed statement, Battlefords-Lloydminster MP Rosemarie Falk said she rejects any assertion that she should not take the time to meet and listen to Saskatchewanians who are peacefully demonstrating and have come all that way to be heard.

“It is also wrong of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to continue to disparage and dismiss the thousands of truckers and Canadians who have come to Ottawa to peacefully protest,” she said.

Regina-Qu’Appelle MP Andrew Scheer was unavailable for comment while Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan MP Fraser Tolmie did not respond to an interview request. Senator Denise Batters declined an interview.

Watson said he's not surprised the leaders who posed for the photo aren't apologizing.

“They're obviously not going to back down, they seem to think what they did was right,” he said.

“Does that mean they support urinating on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or defacing the Terry Fox monument, or dancing on the Cenotaph? All of these things are being done by the group down there that these members of parliament came to praise," Watson said.

Waugh said the protestors he’s seen and met with are peaceful, not violent or hateful, and condemned those individuals who used the protest as a "means for violence and hate."

“That's not the whole story out of the whole conflict. Yeah, there is elements of them, and I certainly don't agree with them,” he said.

“If people think that I support extremism, that's their view. They're not listening to what we're doing. They've already made their minds up, I can't change that. But again, as a member of parliament, it's my job to go out and have a decent conversation with them.”

Falk said she "unequivocally" condemns hate speech and "criminal activity."

Steinley said Ottawa police have told him the protest is the "most peaceful" they've ever seen.

Waugh believes the gridlock the gathering has caused in Ottawa might be eased if political leaders would meet with protesters.

"It's maybe gone on a little too long. But until municipal, provincial and even federal representatives sit down with these people, it's going to be a gridlock here until all three can sit down and hear them out," Waugh said. Top Stories

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