Tories sorry after student turfed from rally
Dimitri Soudas, chief spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, offered an apology to a teen who claims she was turfed from a Tory rally over her Facebook picture with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency Files)
LONDON, Ont. - A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology Monday to a local teen who claims she was turfed from a Tory rally here over her Facebook picture with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
Awish Aslam, a 19-year-old University of Western Ontario student, said she wept after getting the boot.
"I've never voted in a federal election before," she said. "We just repeated we were only there to listen."
Aslam and a friend registered online to attend Harper's Sunday rally - part of the restrictions the Conservatives place on such events.
About 30 minutes after arriving and signing in, the two girls were asked by a man to follow him out of the rally, Aslam said. Though confused, they complied.
In a back room, Aslam said he ripped off their name tags, tore them up and ordered them out.
"We were confused. He said, 'We know you guys have ties to the Liberal party through Facebook'. He said ... 'You are no longer welcome here.'"
Another attendee, Ali Aref Hamadi, said he was asked by an organizer to leave the same rally because of an NDP bumper sticker on his vehicle.
The ejections are further black eyes for the Conservatives, already taking flak for restricting access to Harper.
Dimitri Soudas, Harper's chief spokesperson, said he was unable to confirm the story of Aslam and a friend but nonetheless apologized to them through QMI Agency.
"I will personally apologize to them," he said. "We should be encouraging young people to get involved in politics."