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Calandra apologizes to House for behaviour

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OTTAWA – The Conservative MP ridiculed all week for his non-response to questions in the House of Commons earlier this week has apologized.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/09/2014 (3047 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


OTTAWA – The Conservative MP ridiculed all week for his non-response to questions in the House of Commons earlier this week has apologized.

Paul Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was tearful and shaking in the House when he stood after question period today on a point of order.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to unconditionally, unreservedly apologize to the House for my behaviour the other day,” he said. “Clearly, I allowed the passion and the anger, which something I read, to get in the way of appropriately answering the question to the Leader of the Opposition. For that, I apologize to you, to the entire House and to my constituents.”

Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press files Paul Calandra, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday.

However Calandra then seemed to indicate he would probably end up in the same position again.

“I am fairly certain that there will be other opportunities in the House where I will be answering other questions that you do not appreciate. I do not think this will be the last time that I will get up and answer a question that does not effectively respond.”

It was an unexpected and somewhat odd about face for an MP who defended his response every chance he has had since it happened on Tuesday.

The incident in question took place in question period Tuesday when NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked for clarification on when the current military deployment in Iraq would be over.

Calandra, speaking for Harper who was not in the House that day, ignored the question completely and instead quoted a profanity-laced anti-Israel Facebook rant of an NDP fundraiser, and asked if that person spoke for the entire party.

Calandra repeated the line three times. Mulcair asked Scheer to intervene, and when he didn’t Mulcair accused Scheer of not being impartial which led to Mulcair losing the rest of his questions.

The exchange was considered by many to be one of the most eggregious examples of how ridiculous question period has become when there is nothing compelling the government to actually answer any questions and a media storm ensued.

Later in the day, Calandra tweeted he didn’t care.

“Media upset with me, gee what am I to do? Tell you what, I will stand up for Israel who are on the front lines fighting terror every day.”

On Wednesday in an appearance on a CBC panel discussion, Calandra refused to acknowledge he did anything wrong.

“Well I disagree with you that the topic was changed. The question was about foreign affairs,” he said, resulting in NDP MP Paul Dewar to throw his face into his palms and shake his head in disbelief.

Mulcair told reporters today he accepts Calandra’s apology. But he also said the NDP have served notice on a motion they will introduce in the House next week to give the Speaker the clear authority to intervene when the government answers in question period are either irrelevant or repetitive.

“I hope that Mr. Calandra and his colleagues and frankly all Parliamentarians get behind that NDP motion.”

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer said after the exchange that he has no authority to police the content of answers in question period and urged MPs to take it upon themselves to change that.

Scheer eventually called Calandra’s comments “unsavoury” because of the profanity but he told Mulcair’s office he didn’t intervene because he didn’t hear the language.

There are some within the NDP who were confused by Calandra’s apology, don’t believe he was acting on his own to deliver it and didn’t understand why, if he was remorseful to the point of tears for what he did, he still said he would probably do it again.

Mulcair said earlier this week he believes Calandra was delivering lines given to him by staffers in Harper’s office, people the NDP often refer to as “the boys in short pants.”

Calandra however refused to blame anyone else for his comments.

“Despite what people think about kids in short pants, this was my response and I take full responsibility. I apologize to the Leader of the Opposition, to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all my colleagues.”

History

Updated on Friday, September 26, 2014 1:08 PM CDT: Adds comment from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Updated on Friday, September 26, 2014 1:58 PM CDT: Fixes typo

Updated on Friday, September 26, 2014 8:42 PM CDT: Adds Storify

Updated on Friday, September 26, 2014 11:01 PM CDT: Corrects typo.

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