Tory House leader apologizes for 'inappropriate word'

Government House leader Peter Van Loan apologized in the House of Commons this morning for using an "inappropriate word" during a heated exchange with his NDP counterpart that led to a brief fracas yesterday on the Commons floor.

Peter Van Loan makes apology in the House of Commons

House of Commons commotion

10 years ago
Duration 2:27
A heated dispute between Conservative and NDP MPs is caught on camera

Government House leader Peter Van Loan apologized in the House of Commons Thursday for using an "inappropriate word" during a heated exchange with his NDP counterpart that led to a brief fracas Wednesday on the Commons floor.

In his comments Thursday, Van Loan maintained the NDP shared blame for Wednesday's commotion and suggested NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also apologize.

Van Loan said he was upset with a procedural move by the NDP that was based on a mistake made the night before by the deputy Speaker, an NDP MP.

"I thought it was inappropriate for the New Democrats to raise a point of order on which they relied on that mistake and somehow suggest it was the responsibility of the government," Van Loan said Thursday, adding it put him in the difficult position of trying not to criticize the deputy Speaker while defending the government. 

"I do acknowledge I did use an inappropriate word when I was discussing this matter with the Opposition House leader. I should not have done that and I do apologize for that. I would expect the leader of the Opposition to do the same."

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said in response he planned to talk with Speaker Andrew Scheer "quite shortly" in private and said he wouldn't comment further until that happened.

Van Loan was responding to interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's request that MPs deal with the commotion that occurred Wednesday before the final vote on the government's omnibus budget bill. That contentious bill passed third and final reading in a vote later in the evening.

NDP sought vote do-over

Cullen had raised a point of order demanding that a key vote from Tuesday, the final one out of 46 separate votes that occurred that night, be done over because the minister of finance had not been in his chair at the time. Scheer denied Cullen's request.

Government House leader Peter Van Loan was involved in a heated exchange with NDP House leader Nathan Cullen and Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair Wednesday that saw other MPs step in to restore order. (CBC)

After Scheer's ruling, Van Loan can be seen on camera walking across the Commons aisle to Cullen's seat, wagging his finger and speaking before kneeling down to talk further to Cullen. More MPs from both sides of the floor gathered at the NDP front bench after Mulcair was said to have snapped at Van Loan not to speak to "my House leader that way."

In a matter of seconds, all MPs had been ushered back to their respective sides of the House by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Cullen.

"I certainly pointed my finger at Nathan, but that was it," Van Loan later told CBC News. "I may have used one inappropriate, colourful word, but that's no big deal. It's nothing he hasn't heard before I'm sure."

Van Loan explained later he was pointing out that it was an NDP MP, Joe Comartin, who had been in the Speaker's chair at the time of Tuesday's vote, so if a procedural error had occurred, it was the NDP's fault.

Had Cullen succeeded in getting Tuesday's vote done over again, it would have pushed last night's final vote to at least today.