Manitoba NDP MLA David Gaudreau has been relieved of his caucus duties following homophobic comments he made in the legislature.
Dave Gaudreau, who represents the Winnipeg-area riding of St. Norbert, made a comment on Thursday during question period that remarked on the sexual orientation of St. Paul PC MLA Ron Schuler.
Gaudreau said he had seen conservative MLA Ron Schuler with his "male friend" at one of the pavilions for Folklorama, a multicultural festival in Winnipeg.
He was immediately reprimanded by other PC party members as well as some of his own.
Later in question period, Gaudreau rose on a point of order and said he made some "regrettable" words about Schuler and apologized.
NDP House Leader Jennifer Howard and PC opposition house leader Kelvin Goertzen acknowledged Gaudreau's apology but warned all MLAs to be careful with their choice of words.
On Friday, Premier Greg Selinger stripped Gaudreau of his caucus duties as treasurer for the executive. He also frequently asked questions in the House, but will be removed from that role.
"He has been relieved of his caucus duties, as a form of saying to him that he needs sanctions and needs to change his behaviour, and he's fully accepted those sanctions," Selinger told reporters.
The premier said Gaudreau has made "unacceptable comments" that were "not appropriate in the legislature or out of the legislature.
"We all need to be aware of … homophobic biases in our society, address them, and make sure that we don't treat people in any way that's inappropriate," he added.
Schuler said he accepts Gaudreau's apology. He also called himself a heterosexual man and expressed disappointment that homophobia is still an issue in society.
At about noon Friday, Gaudreau released a written apology on his MLA website.
An Apology: Dave Gaudreau, MLA for St. Norbert
Yesterday in the legislature I made a comment that was offensive, which I regret.
It was a poor choice of words on my part, especially given that they were directed at a colleague of mine for whom I have the greatest respect. I have since apologized to that member and conveyed this regret in person.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my constituents, to my colleagues on both sides of the House, and to the premier.
Unfortunately, homophobia is far too common and accepted in today’s society. Sometimes we even stop noticing it, until it comes out of our own mouths.
I am proud to be part of a government that is committed to fighting homophobia and bullying. All my working life, I have fought hard for a society in which everyone is treated equally and with respect. Yesterday I fell short of this standard, and I know I need to take responsibility for my actions.
Once again, I offer my apologies to all Manitobans.