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MP admits gitch glitch a ruse

Confusion, not underwear, reason Martin rose in House

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2015 (1340 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA -- It may just be the biggest wedgie issue Parliament Hill will ever have to address.

Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin got Parliament's knickers in a knot Thursday, when he tried to get out of a jam in the House of Commons by blaming a pair of cheap underwear that was a size too small.

Martin was caught getting out of his seat in the middle of a procedural vote Thursday morning. The rules are clear: MPs must be in their seats when a vote is called or they can't vote.

He was there when the motion was read, but stood up briefly before Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin gestured him back down.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2015 (1340 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — It may just be the biggest wedgie issue Parliament Hill will ever have to address.

Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin got Parliament's knickers in a knot Thursday, when he tried to get out of a jam in the House of Commons by blaming a pair of cheap underwear that was a size too small.

Winnipeg Centre New Democrat MP Pat Martin.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Centre New Democrat MP Pat Martin.

Martin was caught getting out of his seat in the middle of a procedural vote Thursday morning. The rules are clear: MPs must be in their seats when a vote is called or they can't vote.

He was there when the motion was read, but stood up briefly before Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin gestured him back down.

After the vote, which the NDP lost, Conservative MP Royal Galipeau asked Comartin for clarity on the rules for being in your seat during a vote.

'I actually did just buy an armload of drastically reduced undies at the Bay, a dozen or more pairs that were probably on sale because many are wild colours that clearly weren't big sellers. But I assure you they fit fine. They are not why I left my seat in the House of Commons today'— Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin (above)

That's when Martin's humour took an unexpected turn to his briefs.

"I can blame it on a sale down at the Hudson's Bay," he said. "They had men's underwear on for half price. I bought a bunch that was clearly too small for me and I find it difficult to sit for any length of time. I apologize it was necessary for me to leave my seat briefly, but I did not mean to forfeit my right to vote."

Martin's caucus howled with laughter. Most Conservatives didn't find it so funny. Conservative Manitoba MP Larry Maguire, who sits just behind Martin, looked on with a bemused yet somewhat perplexed look on his face during Martin's speech, while Provencher MP Ted Falk shook his head in disbelief after Martin sat down.

Martin's own leader, Tom Mulcair, stood up at the end of the exchange and threw his hands up in the air, shaking his head in wonder.

Comartin consulted with advisers before ruling Martin's vote would stand because he was in his seat when the motion was read and when he voted, which met the requirements of the rules.

"I've had no briefing on this type of," Comartin started, before he was cut off by the laughter of MPs. "I will try to deal with it with some seriousness."

Comartin later said, "I didn't understand the explanation at the time. I can't say I really understand it at this point."

Later, Conservative whip John Duncan rose on a point of order to complain about the stretching of the rules about MPs being in their seats for a vote, a complaint Comartin took under advisement.

Duncan told the Free Press later Martin's behaviour was not acceptable.

"I think it's making light of a serious situation, and it's completely inappropriate," said Duncan.

The vote Martin interrupted was to end debate on an NDP motion to examine a report that amounted to an attempt to put off the Conservatives from debating their motion to limit discussion of Bill C-51. That's the new anti-terrorism legislation the NDP opposes. Duncan said the party was complaining about not getting enough time to debate.

The NDP stalling tactic failed. The closure motion on C-51 passed without difficulty.

Martin later told the Free Press he was thinking quickly on his feet because he knew he had been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing.

"I know better than that," he said. "It briefly crossed my mind that it might explain the behaviour of a lot of world leaders if their underwear was a size too small."

Martin really stood up because he wasn't certain what motion he was about to vote on and was trying to get Comartin to clarify it for him.

But Martin admits while he did recently buy a bunch of cheap underwear at Hudson's Bay in downtown Winnipeg, they weren't really the wrong size.

"I actually did just buy an armload of drastically reduced undies at the Bay, a dozen or more pairs that were probably on sale because many are wild colours that clearly weren't big sellers. But I assure you they fit fine. They are not why I left my seat in the House of Commons today."

He was excited because they were all $8 a pair, down from $25 to $30 each, but admits they probably "should never be seen."

"No self-respecting Winnipegger pays full price for anything," he said.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 6:56 AM CST: Fixes headline, replaces photo, adds video

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