Some Tory supporters are apparently growing tired of seeing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper pressed by questions about Senator Mike Duffy's expense scandal.
During a campaign stop in Toronto this morning, hecklers tried to shout down journalists posing questions to Harper about recent revelations at Duffy's criminal trial. After the event, one man expressed his frustrations to a group of reporters, calling one journalist a "lying piece of shit."
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Harper was announcing that his government's first "justice priority" if re-elected would be to pass the Life Means Life bill, which would give judges the imperative to sentence some offenders found guilty of first-degree murder to life in prison without parole.
The legislation was first tabled in March, but the Conservative majority government was unable to pass it before Parliament dissolved for the federal election.
But reporters had more questions about the fallout from the expense scandal that has dogged Harper on the campaign trail in recent days, after emails submitted as evidence at Duffy's criminal trial last week revealed that several senior staffers in the Prime Minister's Office knew about Nigel Wright's plan to personally repay Duffy's questionable expenses with a $90,000 cheque.
Despite evidence that his top aides were aware of Wright's actions, Harper has insisted he did not know about them, and has repeatedly answered questions on the subject by saying that the two individuals responsible — Duffy and Wright — are being held accountable.
During a question and answer session, as CBC News reporter Hannah Thibedeau attempted to ask Harper about Duffy, at least two people yelled over her. One man was heard to say, "Ask questions on the topic at hand!"
He continued to yell until Harper himself eventually asked him to stop and told Thibedeau to "go ahead."
Afterward, outside the room where Harper appeared, reporters gathered to speak to some of the supporters who had attended the event.
Carl Burnell, a 69-year-old who said he's voted Conservative for decades, said he came to the event Tuesday hoping for answers on support for seniors and the Duffy scandal.
Burnell said he doesn't feel the Conservative leader wants to help seniors, and that Harper wasn't being forthcoming about Nigel Wright and the Duffy case.
Burnell told reporters he won't vote Conservative again until he gets some answers.
Another supporter who overheard Burnell got frustrated, interrupted and got angry with reporters, Thibedeau reported.
The man who apparently overheard Burnell spoke with a group that included journalists from CBC News, CTV, The Toronto Sun and The Canadian Press. He said, "You guys and your fantasy scandals amount to zero."
He then accused the reporters of lying on their tax returns and said that the Duffy scandal amounts to the same thing. When asked how he could make such a claim, he answered, "Because you're a lying piece of shit."
When the reporters asked the man for his name, he responded, "Go stuff yourselves."
Eventually, security intervened and the man was removed from the event. It was not immediately clear if the man who made the remarks to reporters outside the event was one of the supporters who shouted during questioning.
Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke later apologized to the reporters, saying the man's behaviour was unacceptable.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called the heckling "truly deplorable."
"At all times in a democracy but particularly during an election campaign, the media fulfills an important role of holding our politicians to account and getting the answers that Canadians want to hear from their politicians and leaders," he said in Sault Ste. Marie.
"The fact that this incident lacked respect for not just the media but for the individual journalists performing their job in service of Canadians is truly deplorable."