Politics

Muslim witness calls for MP to be booted from caucus after 'you should be ashamed' outburst

The Muslim man who was the target of an angry confrontation by Conservative MP Michael Cooper during a committee appearance says the punishment meted out by leader Andrew Scheer isn't enough. 

'Such a member should never be part of caucus and should never retain his position,' Faisal Khan Suri says

Conservative MP Michael Cooper is no longer sitting on the justice committee, according to leader Andrew Scheer. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Muslim man who was the target of an angry confrontation by Conservative MP Michael Cooper during a committee appearance says the punishment meted out by leader Andrew Scheer isn't enough. 

"I think more needs to be done here," Faisal Khan Suri told CBC News on Sunday. 

Scheer stripped Cooper of his seat on the House of Commons Justice committee late Saturday evening as punishment for an outburst he had earlier in the week at a hearing dedicated to online hate. 

But Scheer left Cooper in his role as the party's deputy justice critic,

Suri says he should have lost that position and be kicked out of the Conservative caucus.

Scheer's office confirmed Saturday that so far Cooper will keep his duties.

During the committee, Cooper told Suri, who is president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, he should be "ashamed" after he drew a link between "conservative commentators" and the online history of mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.

Suri was testifying about ways to combat hate speech.

Cooper also quoted from the manifesto of the man accused of the mass killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in an attempt to discredit Suri's testimony.

The fact that Cooper had a copy of the gunman's statement was the most troubling element of the whole situation, Suri said. 

"The deep concern that we have is the fact that a federal MP at a national parliamentary committee had the manifesto in his possession."

The document has been banned in New Zealand, and police in Hamilton, Ont., were investigating an incident in March where a far-right Canadian website reposted the manifesto.

Statements from Scheer, Cooper

Scheer took to Twitter Saturday night to announce the consequences for Cooper.

"I have spoken with Michael Cooper about comments he made at the Justice Committee earlier this week. Having taken the time to review the incident, I have informed him that he will no longer sit on the Justice committee as a consequence," Scheer posted on Twitter.

"Reading the name and quoting the words of the Christchurch shooter, especially when directed at a Muslim witness during a parliamentary hearing, is insensitive and unacceptable. Mr. Cooper has apologized. I accept his apology and I consider the matter closed."

On Saturday, Cooper tweeted a statement in which he said quoting the alleged Christchurch shooter was "a mistake" caused by a misunderstanding of Suri's comments.

"I absolutely should not have quoted these words nor named the perpetrator," he said in the statement.

Suri accepted the apologies from the leader and the MP, but says this seems more like a "slap on the wrist," than the MP being held accountable. 

The incident happened just days after Scheer made his most unequivocal statement yet about criticisms his party was too close to extremist groups. 

"I find the notion that one's race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation would make them in any way superior to anybody else absolutely repugnant," Scheer told the crowd at an event in Toronto. "And if there's anyone who disagrees with that, there's the door."

Suri said it's time to make good on that statement.

"Such a member [as Cooper] should never be part of caucus and should never retain his position," Suri said.

With files from David Cochrane

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