Canada

Parrish kicked out of Liberal caucus

Posted: November 18, 2004
Last Updated: November 18, 2004

Prime Minister Paul Martin has thrown the member for Mississauga-Erindale out of the Liberal caucus, less than two weeks before U.S. President George W. Bush makes his first official visit to Ottawa.

Outspoken MP Carolyn Parrish effectively talked herself right out of the inner circle with her criticisms of U.S. President George W. Bush, Martin and the Liberal party itself.

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In the past Parrish has called Americans "bastards." She's referred to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as the "coalition of idiots." And on Wednesday she was videotaped as she stomped on a doll of President Bush for the television program, This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

But the final straw appears to have been comments directed at the prime minister and the Liberal government.

The opposition has demanded for weeks that Martin fire the controversial MP. Martin has always refused. But then Parrish took a shot at him in a Canadian Press story, calling him "weak" and saying she doesn't care if the Liberals lose the next election.

"I told her that while I have defended her right to express her views, frankly I cannot as leader of our party, and the government caucus, tolerate behaviour that demeans and disrespects others."

Sources say Parrish was given a chance to apologize to the Liberal caucus and to retract her comments about the government. She apparently rejected that offer.

Martin made no further comment on his decision, but talking points e-mailed to every Liberal MP said the key message to repeat is that Parrish showed a lack of respect to her party and colleagues.

"She obviously indicated an indifference to our election and our success, and I think it's all about respect for our team," said national Liberal caucus chair Andy Savoy.

"What she said is a lack of respect for the colleagues with whom she works," said Quebec Liberal Raymonde Folco.

Ontario caucus chair Sarmite Bulte was asked why it's OK to bash the president of the United States, but not the Liberal team.

"In any situation there's always a straw that breaks the camel's back and when she attacks our team – each and every member of our caucus and the leader – I think enough is enough."

As for the normally talkative Parrish there was only silence about her new status as an Independent MP.

She failed to attend a scheduled event on Parliament Hill and repeated calls to her office were not returned.

Parrish's ouster could cause problems for the Liberals, who hold a minority in the House of Commons where every vote counts.

With Parrish out, the Liberals hold 134 seats, followed by the Conservatives with 99, the Bloc Québécois with 54, and the NDP with 19.

Unless she chooses to cross the floor to join another federal party, she will sit as an Independent in Parliament, joining Independent British Columbia MP Chuck Cadman.