'I was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive': MP on gay slur
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A Saskatchewan MP says he could never apologize enough to make up for the "shameless" homophobic slurs he made on a 1991 videotape, and he struggles to understand why he ever made the comments in the first place.
Tom Lukiwski, reading a lengthy apology in the House of Commons on Friday, said he never meant what he said when he was filmed nearly 17 years ago at a social gathering at the provincial Progressive Conservative election campaign headquarters.
"The only explanation I can give is that I was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive," the Conservative MP said, issuing his second apology in less than two days.
"I'm not using that as a defence, I'm merely stating the way that I felt and the actions that I took."
He went on to name a long list of people who were likely hurt by his comments, including his family, his constituents and the prime minister. In particular, he singled out the gay and lesbian community and his gay and lesbian colleagues, who he said have been supportive of him over the years.
"The comments I made should not be tolerated in any society," he said. "They should not be tolerated today, they should not have been tolerated in 1991, they should not have been tolerated the years previous to that.
"The words I used are more than just hurtful," he added, noting they do not reflect his personal beliefs. "They are words that should not be allowed to be spoken today, either publicly or privately.
"I will spend the rest of my career and my life trying to make up for those shameless comments."
Gay MP calls for Lukiwski's firing
Despite the apology, gay Liberal MP Scott Brison on Friday called for Lukiwski to be fired as parliamentary secretary to the government house leader.
"The member was 40 years old when he made those hateful remarks. Allowing him to remain an officer of the House debases this institution," Brison said in the House. "The prime minister's tepid response tells Canadians that hate, bigotry and prejudice are just fine."
His demands were echoed earlier Friday by Saskatchewan legislator Pat Atkinson, whose NDP party discovered the tape when moving into the offices of the official Opposition after losing the Nov. 7 election.
Atkinson said she believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper should strip Lukiwski of his duties, just like Harper did to Lukiwski's predecessor, Larry Spencer, when Spencer made a homophobic comment in 2003.
"I think Mr. Spencer made an apology, too, and it wasn't acceptable to Mr. Harper," Atkinson told CBC News on Friday.
"Is one apology more acceptable than another apology? The reality is that Mr. Lukiwski made homophobic remarks … I think there needs to be some consistency for Mr. Harper. If there isn't, … it really raises the question as to why not."
Harper fired Spencer as family issues critic after he told a reporter that he would support outlawing homosexuality. At the time, Spencer was a member of the former Canadian Alliance Party, and Harper was the party leader.
When Lukiwski ran in Spencer's Regina Lumsden-Lake Centre riding a year later, he criticized Spencer for those remarks.
Conservative House leader says apology was enough
But House leader Peter Van Loan said the party believes Lukiwski's apology was genuine and sincere.
"We are satisfied the apology is genuine. We believe the matter is closed," he told MPs in the House.
In his apology, Lukiwski noted that he does have the support of the NDP's Bill Siksay, a gay MP from British Columbia who read a transcript of Lukiwski's comments in the House on Thursday.
Lukiwski said that since then, he personally called Siksay to apologize. Siksay has said publicly that he appreciates that Lukiwski is taking responsibility for his hurtful words. Lukiwski said he is grateful for Siksay's understanding.
"I will never forget the member's generosity and kindness," Lukiwski said in his apology to the House.
Comments made after Lukiwski called 'old'
Lukiwski, now 56, was the general manager of Saskatchewan's provincial PC party when his comments were recorded. He and his colleagues were socializing the night of an election debate, some of them drinking beer, and they videotaped much of the evening.
On the tape, which was released by the provincial NDP on Thursday, the cameraman made a comment about Lukiwski being old.
"As we say on tour, I may be old, but I'm f---ing A," Lukiwski responded.
The cameraman retorted: "And who is this A person?"
"Well, let me put it to you this way. There's A's and there's B's. The A's are guys like me. The B's are homosexual faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit diseases," Lukiwski said.
Others were heard making disparaging remarks on the tape as well.
In one part of the tape, Kathy Young — a former PC party worker who is now the executive director of Saskatchewan government communications — joked about sending a letter bomb to Barb Byers, then president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. Young went on to threaten the lives of other "red union leaders."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also appeared on the tape. A 25-year-old ministerial assistant at the time, he imitated a man with a Ukrainian accent and accused then NDP leader Roy Romanow of having his "head up his ass."
Wall and his Saskatchewan Party ousted the provincial NDP from power in last year's election. The Saskatchewan Party, made up of many former PC officials, formed in 1997.