Van Loan sorry for 'inappropriate' language during scuffle with NDP
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 8:35AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 11:39AM EST
Government House Leader Peter Van Loan apologized Thursday for using an "inappropriate" word in the House of Commons during a scuffle with the NDP one day earlier.
Van Loan stood up in Parliament and acknowledged his comments were out of line.
"I do acknowledge that I did use an inappropriate word when I was discussing this matter with the Opposition House leader," he told the Commons on Thursday. "I should not have done that and I do apologize for that."
The scuffle erupted after Van Loan crossed the floor Wednesday afternoon and confronted his Opposition counterpart Nathan Cullen about a procedural issue, pointing his finger and using language he admits was "colourful."
There are also reports he made an obscene gesture -- a claim Van Loan denies.
Earlier Thursday, Van Loan told CTV's Canada AM he was simply trying to have a conversation with Cullen, which is not unusual, but that New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair "lunged" at him in an "absolute explosion" of anger.
"He completely lost his temper and totally snapped. I don't even remember what he said, I was so surprised and shocked. I sort of went down on a knee because I was trying to have a conversation with Nathan Cullen -- not with Mr. Mulcair. And I guess in hockey terms, he was the third man in, but quite aggressive," Van Loan told Canada AM.
New Democrat MP Paul Dewar also got involved, as did Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who could be seen pulling Van Loan back to the Conservative side of the House.
Van Loan said his colleagues came to his aid because they were worried about his personal safety.
"The reason why the folks on my side got involved -- and it looked like more than it was on television -- was they were quite surprised by the lunge Mr. Mulcair took and the explosion … They were concerned for my well-being. I think I would have been fine, but that's what happened."
Also appearing on Canada AM Thursday, Cullen suggested an apology from Van Loan would help the two sides move past the verbal altercation.
Cullen said Van Loan was “over the line” when he aggressively crossed the floor, noting that Mulcair responded by telling Van Loan not to "threaten" his House Leader.
"An apology would probably satisfy this. I'll talk to the Speaker later today and we can try to get a little more civility in the House of Commons so Canadians can be a bit more proud of the place rather than watching that kind of behaviour," Cullen said, adding that he would even buy Van Loan a cup of coffee to make amends.
Cullen also said he hoped to meet with Van Loan Thursday morning to talk about the incident face-to-face.
Moments before the incident, Speaker Andrew Scheer had ruled against Cullen's motion to revoke the report stage of the marathon omnibus budget bill vote that occurred Tuesday night. Cullen argued the end of the vote should be deemed "illegitimate" because Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wasn't in his seat at the time.
After the Speaker's ruling, Van Loan crossed the floor to speak with Mulcair and Cullen.
NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, who had a front-row view of the scuffle, told Power Play that Van Loan used "a lot of expletives."
"I think the Conservative House leader did not act appropriately," she said. "He came over pretty aggressively, guns blazing … heated words were said and it's not cool."
But Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner said that Mulcair was "very aggressive with his language as well."
"There's nobody in the right here," he said. "This is the House of Commons and there's no place for this."
Both Cullen and Van Loan admitted politics can be a heated business and said they expect to find a way to move past the disagreement and restore a working relationship.
With files from The Canadian Press