For the record: What Amarjeet Sohi said, amid laughter - Macleans.ca
 

For the record: What Amarjeet Sohi said, amid laughter

The Liberals have accused the Conservatives of laughing at the infrastructure minister’s background as a bus driver. Read the full exchange.


 

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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rose on a point of order to slam members of the opposition who tittered during that time, asking for the laughter to be withdrawn from the record.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.


 

For the record: What Amarjeet Sohi said, amid laughter

  1. Seems like their is a bit of political capital being burned away from the conservatives. You know its funny, the cons were having their way with Trudeau the last few weeks, now the table has turned. Just look at the tizz the Grits have the Cons in in the HOCs today, they are doing everything they can to not look like they are a party of racists, without trying to look like racist. This wedge, ‘Values’ is getting welded into the conservative party today.

  2. I believe that it is very important for ministers to have direct experience in what they are running. A bus driver or truck driver should be the one in charge of transportation. They know what life is like on the roads. We do not need a lawyer or Bachelor of science grad to run our roads. We need experienced people who can get things done.

    • Fred, with respect you are completely wrong about this.
      Of course there is nothing wrong with being a bus driver, and that is relevant experience for Mr. Sohi, but that’s a far cry from pretending we don’t need scientists, data, and study.
      A farmer knows his fields and crops and experiences well, but he has NEVER had time to learn about all the different agri-regions and markets in Canada. Learning about those things is not his area of expertise. Make him Minister of Agriculture and you’ll have a Minister who knows 1 thing very well and not one thing about anything else.
      You want architects and engineers to design your building, not masons and carpenters. You need an educator who has studied many forms of pedagogy to craft curriculum, not a grade 5 teacher who knows 10 year olds but nothing about trade schools.
      Pretending we need someone who did a job instead of someone who learned about the many many areas under his supervision is short-sighted and self-destructive. We should not pretend the working man is useless and ignorant, but nor should we pretend his knowledge is comparable to much less better than the scientist who has studied his field.