Only washroom could get Penashue out of his seat: Simms

Liberal MP Scott Simms jokes that the call of nature was more powerful than public demands for disclosure in getting action from former MP Peter Penashue.

Resignation and plan to run have dominated question period in the House of Commons all week

The federal Opposition Liberals and New Democrats hammered the Conservatives again on Thursday in the House of Commons for letting former Labrador MP Peter Penashue run in the Labrador byelection. (CBC)

The Opposition is continuing its attack on the credibility of former Conservative MP Peter Penashue, with one Liberal MP making a joke about what it took to get the former cabinet minister out of his seat in Parliament.

"He ran away from the TV cameras, he ran away from the public, he ran away from all of his commitments," said Scott Simms said Thursday.

"The only time Peter Penashue felt it necessary to stand in this House was to use the washroom. It's absolutely ridiculous."

Simms and other MPs are escalating their criticism of Penashue, the former intergovernmental affairs minister who resigned his seat last week, amid revelations that Elections Canada found his 2011 campaign had repeatedly accepted ineligible contributions.

The Conservative Party of Canada has already declared that Penashue will be its candidate in a byelection that has yet to be called. Earlier this week, Stephen Harper called Penashue "the best member of Parliament Labrador has ever had."

New Democrat Ryan Cleary said he hopes government learned something from the resignation of Reg Bowers from the offshore petroleum board. Bowers, Penashue's former campaign manager, resigned from the board the same day that Penashue quit as an MP.

Penashue has described Bowers as an inexperienced volunteer who made mistakes on his 2011 campaign.

Cleary offered some advice as the feds search for Bowers' replacement.

"This time, can the minister at least promise — and I ask this on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians — that the next patronage appointment will not be an inexperienced volunteer?" said Cleary.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said vacancies on the board are filled with "highly qualified people."

He says the board's top priority is the health and safety of workers and protecting the environment.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to set a date for the byelection.