Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Martin stands by latest expletives

Won't apologize for slam of senator's stance

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OTTAWA -- Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin added fuel to the obscenity-laden firestorm he created this week when he cursed at a Conservative senator who suggested murderers should be given ropes to hang themselves.

On Wednesday, Martin called Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu an "asshole" for the comment that sparked controversy. When demands for an apology were made Thursday, Martin refused.

"Nobody elected this son of a bitch, he should keep his comments to himself," Martin told the Free Press.

He added perhaps his only mistake was that he didn't include the required honorific when addressing a senator.

"I should have called him an honourable asshole."

Boisvenu triggered his own controversy with his comments Wednesday when he was asked about the government's omnibus crime bill, which implements stiffer penalties for certain violent crimes.

"Each assassin should have the right to a rope in his cell to make a decision about his or her life," Boisvenu said Wednesday on his way into the weekly Conservative caucus meeting.

Boisvenu is an outspoken victims' rights advocate. His daughter was raped and murdered by a repeat offender in Quebec in 2002. He was appointed to the Senate in 2009.

Suicide-prevention advocates and opposition MPs accused him of inciting suicide.

Boisvenu retracted his remarks later in the day and said he was sorry if he offended anyone whose relatives had committed suicide. On Thursday, however, he noted he received hundreds of emails supporting his call.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper distanced himself from the comment but noted Boisvenu's tragic family circumstances.

"We all understand that Sen. Boisvenu and his family have suffered horribly in the past, we understand his emotions in that regard," Harper said during question period Wednesday.

Manitoba Senior Minister and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews demanded Martin apologize Thursday.

"Pat Martin's constituents, and indeed all Canadians, would be better served if the MP and his soft-on-crime party would direct their outrage and vitriol at the criminals who victimize innocent, law-abiding Canadians rather than at a senator whose family has suffered a terrible loss at the hands of a repeat offender," Toews said in a letter to the editor.

This is the second time in recent months Martin has been called upon to apologize for cursing. In November he went on a profanity-laced tirade on Twitter when the Conservatives moved to close debate on a budget bill.

"This is a f ing disgrace... closure again. And on the Budget! There's not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot s ," he wrote. When someone on Twitter then called Martin a "foul mouth socialist" Martin responded with "f you". He told another critic to "eat my shorts."

Martin -- who had pledged to bring civility back to the Commons -- refused to apologize then as well.

"If they stopped doing outrageous things it would be easier to control myself," he said Thursday.

Martin said next week is Suicide Prevention Week and it's outrageous that a Canadian senator would be inciting suicide.

"It's the most offensive remark I've ever heard a member of Parliament say," said Martin. "If his grief has so clouded his judgment, he should not be in the Senate."

Martin said he did not know Boisvenu's daughter was murdered or that another of Boisvenu's daughters was killed in a car accident in 2005. He said the senator's situation is admittedly tragic.

Martin is not the only MP to have issued obscenities at critics or people they disagree with lately. Treasury Board President Tony Clement, earlier this month, called a 15-year-old kid on Twitter a "jackass" after the teen had made fun of Clement for spelling 'tonight" as 'tonite' in a tweet.

Clement did apologize for his comment.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 3, 2012 A4

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