NDP Quebec MPs feel snubbed during royal visit

NDP MPs are complaining that they were shut out of a high-profile ceremony in Quebec City attended by Prince William and Kate last weekend.
NDP MPs in Quebec say they were excluded from an event with Prince William and his wife Kate in Quebec City last weekend. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

New Democrats are complaining that they were shut out of a high-profile ceremony in Quebec City attended by Prince William and Kate last weekend. They call the move unusual, because federal MPs are usually invited to the annual Freedom of the City ceremony.

This was the first such annual event since the NDP wave washed away the former Conservative stronghold in the provincial capital.

Newly elected MP Annick Papillon says the mayor of Quebec City basically kicked her and two fellow NDPers out of the ceremony when they showed up last Sunday.

"He said, 'Finally, you're interested in what's going on in Quebec now,"' Papillon said of her encounter with Mayor Regis Labeaume in a parking area. "He asked us to leave."

Papillon, who is one of the Quebec City-area NDP MPs elected on May 2, says she hasn't got any explanation for why she and her colleagues were snubbed when it came to getting on the guest list for the ceremony.

Later that same day, the royals were given a triumphant tour of suburban Forts-Levis by that area's MP — Conservative cabinet minister Steven Blaney. The veterans affairs minister stood so close to the couple that he was included in numerous media images of their walk through an adoring crowd.

PMO pleased at interest in monarchy

A spokesman for the prime minister said he had not heard any suggestion the NDP was prevented from attending the event on partisan grounds, but he did manage a jab at the Opposition nonetheless.

"We're pleased to see how warmly the NDP, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, has embraced Canada's constitutional monarchy," said Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Papillon said she and fellow MPs Jonathan Tremblay and Helene Michaud went to city hall earlier in the day, despite not being on the guest list. She said she ran into other federal and provincial politicians who thought their presence was normal.

But they had to leave the area once they ran into the mayor. "Normally the federal MPs go to Quebec City city hall for the Freedom of the City (ceremony), but we did not get this invitation," she said in a telephone interview. "We tried to discuss this with the mayor, but in vain."

NDP MPs had better luck getting close to the popular royal couple later in the tour, including Thursday when they attended the Calgary Stampede.

Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan tweeted she was "off to PM Calgary reception for Duke and Duchess in my denim best."

Dennis Bevington, NDP MP for Western Arctic, was also present at reception lines in Yellowknife earlier this week.

Canadian Press