[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m., February 22, 2007]
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper squared off in
question period with Liberal MP Navdeep Bains.
OTTAWA — Prime
Minister Stephen Harper is standing his ground and refusing to
apologize to a Liberal MP whose father-in-law was the subject of a
newspaper article this week saying he was on a witness list
for the Air India bombing investigation.
For the second-consecutive day, the Liberals centred their
question period around criticizing Harper who on Wednesday failed in
an attempt to read into the record a Vancouver Sun article reporting
that Liberal MP Navdeep Bain's father-in-law will not have to
appear before an investigative hearing into the inquiry if two
measures in the anti-terrorism act are not renewed.
The Liberals have spent the past two weeks in an internal battle
over Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's decision to vote against
maintaining those special measures which are set to expire at the
end of this month.
On Wednesday, Bains, who is literally a backbench MP with oak panel
behind his Commons seat, led off question period for the Grits and
twice unsuccessfully demanded Harper apologize for trying to read
the article into the record.
"Yesterday the prime minister, in the House of Commons, attacked my integrity and the integrity of my family.
"Now that he has had some time to think, will the prime
minister simply retract his remarks?"
A slightly subdued Harper dismissed the MP's demand and said he
"did not accept the premise" of the question.
Harper had moments earlier entered the Commons chamber accompanied
by some of the relatives of victims of the Air India bombing. The
relatives have been demanding the Liberals reverse Dion's decision
and held a news conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday to
continue to press their case.
Dion, however, said this week that his decision is
But with the relatives at his side, Harper conducted a rare scrum
before question period with reporters to also press Dion to
reconsider his opposition to voting against the two measures.
"I think it's a matter of public record now that the -- a matter of public record that the police want to use these provisions in their Air India
investigation," Harper said.
"So, you know, I think the facts are clear here. It's a simple question of whether we have the leadership as a parliament to do the right thing when we have to do the right thing, regardless of the kind of pressures we may feel from our caucus."
On Tuesday, Harper accused the Liberals of "interfering"
with the continuing RCMP investigation by opposing renewing the two
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler is among the Liberals who are still
openly opposed to Dion's position not to renew the measures.
"Mr. Dion is a person like myself we're both former academics,
we both look at the facts and we drew different conclusions about
the same facts," Cotler told reporters after question period.
However, Cotler said he still believes Harper's attempt to read the
article about Bain's father-in-law into the record in question
period was "inappropriate."
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