Manitoba

Tearful Liberal MLA denounces NDP for implying that her success is because of her father

While fighting tears, Manitoba Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux condemned "cheap shots" from NDP members trying to imply that her accomplishments in politics were due to her father's pedigree, she alleged in an emotional address to the Manitoba Legislature. 

Nahanni Fontaine refutes allegations she threatened or was hurtful to Cindy Lamoureux

Her eyes red, Burrows MLA Cindy Lamoureux blasted the NDP for 'disgusting' comments about her, which she said implied her hard-fought successes were the result of her father. (Screengrab)

While fighting tears, Manitoba Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux condemned "cheap shots" from NDP members trying to imply her accomplishments in politics were due to her father's pedigree, she alleged in an emotional address Thursday to the Manitoba Legislature. 

She claimed the language used during an earlier debate in the House crossed the line, and she demanded an apology. 

"They were disgusting, offensive, ageist and sexist," Lamoureux said in her speech

In particular, Lamoureux — the daughter of Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux, and the youngest MLA in the Manitoba Legislature at 27 years old — singled out NDP House leader Nahanni Fontaine. As status of women critic, Fontaine shouldn't be giving a man credit for a woman's work, Lamoureux said. 

NDP forcibly denies

Fontaine emphatically dismissed the accusations. She said she never acted threateningly nor said anything offensive to her. She only referenced Lamoureux's father because the federal Liberal was in attendance, she said.

The only apology should come from Cindy, the House leader said, after the Burrows MLA blurted out "douchebags" following their morning exchange.

Lamoureux shared her outrage in her member's statement on Thursday afternoon, drawing a standing ovation from her Liberal colleagues and the governing Progressive Conservatives. Tory MLAs Rochelle Squires and Sarah Guillemard rushed over to embrace Lamoureux in a hug.

Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux calls out NDP members for their remarks in the Manitoba Legislature Thursday. 2:02

The Liberal MLA later called the NDP's actions the worst decorum she's witnessed in the House since her election in 2016.

Her issues stem from a debate hours earlier about a resolution to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Fontaine said she couldn't, in good conscience, endorse the motion from the Manitoba Liberals when their counterparts in Ottawa turned their back on postal workers a few months ago.

"I know that the member for Burrows is shaking her head, and that's OK," Fontaine said. "She actually should be shaking her head at her father, who just a little while ago stood up in Parliament and voted in favour of legislation forcing Canada Post union members back to work."

The Lamoureux family is a household name in Liberal politics in Manitoba. Kevin, who formerly was a provincial MLA, has been in the House of Commons since 2010, while his daughter Cindy has been a MLA since 2016. (Terry MacLeod/CBC)

Afterwards, there was an alleged encounter on the steps of the Legislature where Cindy Lamoureux says the NDP shouted at her father.

"It was a lot of yelling and saying that, implying my father had done a very poor job at raising me, which I find incredibly offensive, because I am proud of where I am today."

The MLA added that Fontaine started pointing and screaming at her father, and walked up one row of stairs to intimidate her father.

Fontaine 'yearning for attention'

"She starts yelling at him, saying, 'You are threatening me. You're threatening me.'" Cindy Lamoureux told reporters. "I know my father and he was certainly not threatening her.

"She was yearning for attention, causing a huge scene, screaming at the top of her lungs," Lamoureux said.

Fontaine disputed the claim. She said the MLA's father leaned toward her and said, in a threatening manner, he is looking forward to the next provincial and federal election.

Lamoureux said she's routinely faced quips for her youth and her father from members of the NDP, and she believes in moving past the insults. 

"I know those comments are going to be made. It's unfortunate, but I believe in resolving them," she said.

I'm confident nowhere in my comments did I say anything or would I say anything sexist or ageist.- NDP House leader Nahanni Fontaine

"I can give you an example: a member in the past has said things like, 'Oh, did your daddy write that for you.' And I've worked with the speaker of the House, who acts as a mediator … and we resolved the conflict." 

The Lamoureux name is well-known in Liberal circles in Manitoba. Kevin, once a provincial MLA, has been in the House of Commons since 2010, while his daughter Cindy has been a MLA since 2016. 

Cindy ran for the provincial party leadership in 2017 but lost to Dougald Lamont.

Asked if she regrets her own conduct on Thursday, Cindy said she uttered "douchebag" out of frustration, while walking away, and she apologizes.

NDP House leader Nahanni Fontaine said the only reason she brought up Kevin Lamoureux in the Manitoba Legislature is because he was present in the gallery, not because he is the father of Burrows MLA Cindy Lamoureux. (Ian Froese/CBC)

Fontaine said she's heard no insulting remarks against Lamoureux, and refutes that she was hurtful in any way.

"I'm confident nowhere in my comments did I say anything or would I say anything sexist or ageist," she said from the party caucus room.

She says Lamoureux's father was only mentioned because he was watching from a couch in the chamber. She would have made the same remark if any other Liberal MP who voted for back-to-work legislation was present.

'It doesn't make it true:' Fontaine

"I printed off the list of every single MP that voted in favour of that legislation and actually had I had time, I was going to record all of those names [in the House], just to show, the totality of the conversation or debate in respect to the Liberal party's commitment to labour."

Fontaine insisted her colleague in the legislature wasn't being targeted for her youth or political family. 

"She can imply that. It doesn't make it true," she said.

"I am not responsible for the way people interpret, or how they want to imply my comments, that is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to debate a bill in the House to the best of my ability and to ensure that everybody knows the totality … of what we are actually debating."

Political parties are often linked to the actions of another government of the same stripe, Fontaine said.

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese reports from the Manitoba Legislature for CBC Manitoba. He previously wrote for the Brandon Sun and the Carillon in Steinbach. Story idea? Email ian.froese@cbc.ca.