The Conservatives have earned criticism for appearing to laugh at the infrastructure minister’s previous job as a bus driver during question period on Tuesday, after a Liberal backbencher asked Amarjeet Sohi a self-serving question about infrastructure. Adam Vaughan later rose on a point of order to slam members of the opposition who tittered during that time, asking for the laughter to be withdrawn from the record. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen declined, saying: “”There’s all kinds of laughter that occurs here. So we absolutely respect and honour all of the jobs that we’ve done, and the experience we bring to this house.”
Were the Conservatives mocking Sohi’s previous job? Or were they aggrieved with the infrastructure minister’s initial response to a softball question? The viral clip of Sohi’s answer alone needs further context. Read and watch the entire exchange below:
Don Rusnak, MP for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON: Mr. Speaker, many residents of my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River rely on public transit to get to school, work, or doctors’ appointments. In the fall, Thunder Bay received more than $6 million for new buses, transit shelters, and bus stop signage improvements, and on Friday, I was pleased to announce a new handi-van bus in Fort Frances. These investments will mean better transit services for the residents of my riding.
Could the minister explain how public transit investments are supporting communities like mine by growing the middle class and getting people home faster? (Rising noise from MPs)
Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities: Mr. Speaker, as a former bus driver I want to (laughter from MPs) convey our thoughts and prayers (“What’s the matter with that?” “Wow.”) for the Winnipeg Transit bus operator who was stabbed last night while serving his community and on duty.
I want to thank the hon. member for his question and his hard work. (Burst of moderate noise from MPs) On Friday, in partnership with the municipalities and the Province of Ontario, we announced 79 transit projects in 29 municipalities. From new buses in Milton, Renfrew, and Orillia, to new transit shelters in Huntsville—
Speaker Geoff Regan: The hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.