Tory MP Pierre Poilievre came under fire in the House of Commons on Friday for using the term "tar baby."

The controversy arose as Poilievre accused Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff of distancing himself from the carbon tax policy initiated by former party leader St├ęphane Dion.

"On that side of the House, they have the man who fathered the carbon tax, put it up for adoption to his predecessor and now wants a paternity test to prove the tar baby was never his in the first place,"  said Poilievre, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister.

The Liberals and the NDP later asked Poilievre to withdraw the comment and apologize, saying the phrase carried racist undertones, but Poilievre refused.

"Tar baby is a common reference that refers to issues that stick to one," he said.

While that is a dictionary definition of tar baby, the term has also been used as a slur to describe black children.