Justin Trudeau says he “understands” his MP’s frustrations, after John McKay was secretly recorded saying his leader had a “bozo eruption” in declaring that anti-abortion candidates cannot run for the party.

Trudeau made the comments to reporters as he arrived on Parliament Hill Tuesday morning, a day after CTV News revealed McKay’s candid remarks about Trudeau’s abortion stance.

“John McKay is a good man and a good friend and a great environment critic and he feels passionately about this issue,” Trudeau said. “And I understand his frustrations.”

Later Tuesday, Trudeau said McKay apologized to him personally and he considers the matter closed, CTV’s Omar Sachedina reported. 

McKay, a Toronto MP who opposes abortion, thought he was having a private conversation at an event Sunday when he discussed his concerns with Trudeau.

“I’ve had umpteen conversations with so many people about this. It’s driving me crazy,” he is heard saying in the audio recording obtained by CTV News.

“I initially thought it was a bozo eruption; that he didn’t actually think about what he said,” McKay said after he was asked about the abortion issue. 

“But even more disturbing is that his brain trust might have actually thought about this, and if they did … it scares the hell out of me. If you don’t know this is a toxic issue for a population then you have no political sense whatsoever.”

The audio recording was made by someone with Conservative leanings.

McKay was surprised to learn that he was being recorded during the conversation and called it “gotcha” politics.

In a statement, he told CTV News:  “I made ill advised comments in what I thought was a private conversation where I didn’t know I was being secretly recorded.”

One of McKay’s colleagues, Liberal MP Marc Garneau, said Tuesday that McKay is “a very principled” person who believed he was expressing his views in private.

“In that sense, he is entitled to have his private comments and he certainly wasn’t expecting it to be made public,” Garneau said in Ottawa.

In response to the recording, the Liberal Party said Monday that Trudeau “respects Mr. McKay,” who has “strong, personal feelings about this issue and often in those situations people say thing that they come to regret.”

Trudeau told reporters earlier this month that any prospective Liberal MPs who are anti-abortion will be flagged and barred during the nomination process.

“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills,” he said, adding that beliefs of long-time Liberal MPs who are anti-abortion “will be respected to a certain extent.”

McKay has told The Canadian Press that he’ll likely have “a few awkward moments” being in the minority among Liberal MPs on the issue.

With a report from CTV’s Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Laurie Graham