Elizabeth May won't resign after Omar Khadr remarks
Published Monday, May 11, 2015 10:54AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 11, 2015 11:18PM EDT
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she has no plans to resign after making an attempted humorous speech over the weekend in which she insulted the federal cabinet for its treatment of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.
May admitted that her remarks at the annual press gallery dinner in Gatineau, Que., were a poor attempt at comedy. However, she said they shouldn't detract from her political track record.
"Of course not," she told CTV News Channel when asked if she would resign over the speech.
"Look, I'm a political party leader who gave a bad speech at the press gallery dinner. But I also have a lifetime of work and I have apologized fully, I hope, and unreservedly for an attempt at humour that didn't work."
She noted she wouldn't want to let down her constituents in the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. She also said she has "set a standard" on Parliament of being respectful and never heckling her colleagues in the House of Commons.
"People do need to know that it was an attempt at humour and comedy," she said of the speech.
On Saturday, May attended the annual dinner, where she addressed journalists and politicians and attempted to poke fun at herself and her colleagues.
In her remarks, May played a recording of the theme song to the 1970s TV sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter," and told the audience that Khadr had "more class than the whole f---ing cabinet."
Khadr was set free on bail last week, despite attempts by the federal government to keep him imprisoned.
The 28-year-old pleaded guilty in 2010 to five war crimes – including the murder of a U.S. soldier. The military commission that heard his case has since been widely discredited.
He has spent nearly 13 years in prison.
May was eventually guided off the stage by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
She later apologized for her remarks, explaining that she was getting over the flu and had put in a lengthy work day the day before the dinner. She said her exhaustion made her believe her jokes would be funny.
May said Monday that she had attended previous press gallery dinners where other politicians had also made jokes that "didn't work," as well as used far more expletives than she had used.
President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement and NDP House Leader Peter Julian said Monday afternoon that May's apology was sufficient.
"Look, she's apologized which was appropriate and I'm going to leave the matter at that," Clement told reporters.
Julian said that past press dinners have also featured various controversial speeches.
"We've sometimes seen different speeches with different degrees of quality in the parliamentary press dinner. I think she regrets her remarks and I think she made that really clear," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press