N.B. MLA expelled for rude gesture
Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc was expelled from the New Brunswick legislature Thursday for extending his middle finger at an Opposition MLA.
The member for Saint John Lancaster made the gesture at Rothesay Progressive Conservative MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney after question period.
The house Speaker, Roy Boudreau, called on LeBlanc to either apologize or leave. LeBlanc opted to leave.
It's unclear how long the suspension will last.
Premier Shawn Graham told reporters he was extremely disappointed with LeBlanc's actions.
"It's totally unacceptable," Graham said.
Graham wouldn't say whether LeBlanc will be suspended from the Liberal caucus, but he said he thought the Speaker's punishment was appropriate.
Accused of heckling
The incident occurred after Opposition house leader Paul Robichaud accused LeBlanc of repeatedly heckling Blaney.
"It happens all the time, Mr. Speaker … I believe that this is enough," Robichaud said during a point of order.
"We heard enough of those kinds of insults coming from the MLA for Saint John Lancaster, and I believe, Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Saint John Lancaster should apologize to the MLA for Rothesay."
Boudreau urged everyone to behave.
"We're talking here about respect and decorum toward everybody in the house — men or women," he said. "I know it becomes very boisterous at times, very emotional at times, but respect is No. 1."
Moments after Boudreau finished speaking, there were audible gasps from the Progressive Conservatives.
"Oh my, God — he just gave the finger," someone exclaimed.
"That's enough," said another. "I saw it!"
Robichaud complained again, but LeBlanc refused to apologize.
"I'll not apologize in this house for that young lady over there," he said, before accusing Blaney of telling lies about Saint John-Fundy MLA Stuart Jamieson.
Jamieson was asked to step down as tourism minister on Friday for suggesting the controversial deal between NB Power and Hydro-Québec should go to a referendum.
LeBlanc did not elaborate on the alleged lies before extending his middle finger again at another Tory MLA and shaking his fist.
"I'm gonna tell you, Dale [Graham, Tory MLA for Carleton], I'll walk outside with any one of yas here," LeBlanc said. "Don't ever laugh at me. Yes, I gave you that. And I'll give you that again. And I'll give you this if you want to go outside. You're a punk!"