Amid concerns about his views on immigrants, members of a House of Commons committee have rejected Stephen Harper's nominee to head a new review board for public appointments.
Calgary businessman Gwyn Morgan, the former president and CEO of energy company EnCana Corp., was personally selected by the prime minister to chair the new commission.
However, in a 6-5 vote Tuesday, the government operations committee rejected his nomination, calling Morgan unsuitable for the job.
Harper signalled that the move effectively kills the commission, a key part of his accountability and ethics package.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed with what I think is an irresponsible decision," Harper told reporters before question period.
The prime minister said he'll likely need a majority government in order to clean up government.
"We'll obviously need a majority government to do that in the future. That's obviously what we'll be taking to the people of Canada at the appropriate time," said Harper.
Harper said he would not appoint Morgan against the committee's will, and accused opposition parties of playing partisan games.
Attacked on several comments
WhenHarper announced the nomination in April, he said there was "no one better qualified" for the job than Morgan.
However, opposition politicians had criticized the 60-year-old businessman's views about immigrants.
"He said that refugees tended to be less qualified than economic immigrants. He questioned the role of multiculturalism," said New Democratic Party MP Peggy Nash, who introduced the motion to reject Morgan.
"I think we are proud of our multicultural country and to stereotype whole cultures, that was problematic," she said.
During a February speech in Toronto, Morgan said multiculturalism could work to divide Canadians.
"Recent riots in France and Australia are timely and troubling examples," he said.
"It seems as if multiculturalism in these countries has created subcultures bearing little relation to the mainstream culture and values of the country."
Beliefsbeing distorted, Morgan says
In December, Morgan linked rising gang violence in Canada to immigrants from Jamaica and Indo-China. Those cultures are "dominated by violence and lawlessness," he said.
Speaking to the Commons committee on Tuesday, Morgan said it was painful to see "a couple of sentences taken out of context from one of my speeches and leave such an untrue impression of my beliefs."
'Kangaroo court' made partisan decision, Tory alleges
Tory MP Jason Kenney called the vote a partisan lynching of a man with a record of "sterling service" in the business community.
"What we had was a kangaroo court where the decision was predetermined and where the reputation of Canada's top business leader was run into the gutter for short-term political reasons," said Kenney.
A key plank in the Conservative government's accountability package, the appointments commission was to develop guidelines and oversee major federal appointments. Morgan would have been paid $1 a year, an honourary amount.