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No apology  

[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 "final."

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 anti-terror measures. 

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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> Liberals demand Harper apologize for attempt to "smear" 

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