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Bruinooge apologizes

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Manitoba Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge apologized to NDP MP Pat Martin for saying Martin had no business introducing a private members’ bill to exonerate Louis Riel when Métis leaders themselves didn’t agree on whether Riel should be exonerated.

"I don’t think a non-Métis politician has any business getting into this," said Bruinooge.

He made the comment Friday when I was interviewing him about a newsletter sent out by Edmonton Conservative MP Peter Goldring.

But Bruinooge says he immediately regretted it.

"Right after I told you that Pat Martin as a non-Métis politician had no business in this debate I thought to myself how I really didn`t hold that philosophy and how it wasn`t a fair thing to say," Bruinooge wrote me in an email Sunday afternoon.

Bruinooge called Martin personally Sunday morning to apologize. His office put out a press release apologizing publicly as well.

"Whether I agree with him fully or not, the beauty of our democracy is the freedom to discuss conversing opinions," said Bruinooge in the press statement.

Martin said he was surprised by the apology and accepted it however he said he`s not entirely convinced it came from Bruinooge on his own.

"I never question the motives of an apology but I have no doubt the PMO ripped his head off for this," said Martin. `They do not want to be on the wrong side of this. Quebec was scorched earth for the Conservatives from the day they lynched Riel until the Diefenbaker years."

The moral of much of this story seems to be politicians need to be a bit more careful with their words. But from Bruinooge’s emotional response to the story, the comments on the story itself, emails I’ve received and even the fact Golding wrote his newsletter in the first place, it’s also clear 124 years after his death Louis Riel can still stir up a lot of controversy and emotion.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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