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Martin won't apologize

Frustrated MP drops Twitter F-bombs

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OTTAWA -- Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin is not about to undergo hot sauce on the tongue or a good dose of soap-flavoured mouthwash.

The veteran MP from Winnipeg Centre faces no disciplinary action for dropping a couple of F-sharps on Twitter Wednesday night -- nor is he apologetic.

He said he could not believe the furor around the 140-character tirade when he used what he calls "industrial" language to protest the Conservatives forcing an end to debate on the budget implementation bill.

"This is a (expletive) disgrace... closure again. And on the Budget! There's not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot (expletive)," came the tweet Wednesday evening.

Martin dropped the F-bomb a second time a few minutes later, after another person tweeted that Martin capitalized the word "Budget" but not "God" in another tweet.

"(Expletive) you," Martin wrote.

By Thursday he said he'd received hundreds of inquiries and responses about the incident.

"I can't believe that," he said. "It's such a little thing."

Martin insisted he had nothing to apologize for, saying he was frustrated and he used a bad word.

Later, Martin said his use of the word appeared to actually have the effect of drawing people's attention to how often the government has closed debate this fall.

"It (happened) while I was voting. I was looking across at them and thinking they don't even know the damage that they've done," he said of the Conservative MPs. "It took the Liberals 13 years to get this arrogant."

Most Liberal MPs queried seemed to suggest they understood Martin's frustration but would not have chosen the same language.

"I don't think it helps very much. I think we may need to have some kind of security guards put on BlackBerrys so that... people get a chance to reconsider what they've put on their machines," said Liberal Leader Bob Rae.

Manitoba Conservative MP and regional cabinet minister Vic Toews was not amused in the least.

"It's disgusting. Nothing is going to happen. I think that everyone should simply recognize the guy for the idiot he is and simply move on," Toews (Provencher) said.

Martin said the Conservatives have a majority, which means their legislation is going to pass, but it doesn't mean they should shut down any other points of view by cutting off debate.

The closure of debate on Bill C-13 was the sixth time this fall the government has moved to limit debate on a bill and the second time on this bill. Other bills getting a short time in the House include legislation eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly and the gun registry and the government's controversial omnibus crime bill.

Martin said most of the reaction he is getting from his own caucus colleagues is supportive because they too are frustrated by the repeated closure of debate by this government.

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel had no intention of washing Martin's mouth out with soap.

"His language was not appropriate and could have been offensive to some. That said, the Conservatives' actions are not appropriate in a democracy and offensive to all Canadians."

Ontario MP Charlie Angus gave Martin the thumbs up.

"Right on Pat," Angus said.

He said the Conservatives were acting like "spoiled brats."

Martin is known to be one of the most colourful MPs in the House of Commons and has come under fire numerous times for his comments. He has in the past threatened to punch a Liberal opponent during an election and likened the governor of North Dakota to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.

Last spring he pledged to lead a movement to improve debate in the House of Commons, handing out buttons reading "opto civilitas," which is Latin for "I choose civility."

Martin said he doesn't think his Twitter outburst compromises that pledge because he is still respectful in the House of Commons.

"I don't heckle. I don't use vulgar language in the House. Twitter is speaking to your universe. I was civil in the House."


-- with a file from CP


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2011 B1

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