The case of the alleged Nazi salute

Despite—indeed, because of—Wayne Easter’s statement that no Nazi salute was made during last week’s C-38 votes, Joe Oliver rose after QP today to press the case, alleging that Mr. Easter and Liberal MP Hedy Fry engaged in inappropriate gesturing. Mr. Easter again asserted innocence, but Conservative MP Chris Warkentin suggested he should apologize anyway. After an intervention by Bob Rae, the Speaker said he would review the video footage. (Ms. Fry responds via Twitter.)

Below, the transcript of today’s discussion.

Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday evening, I rose on a question of personal privilege to say that two members had directed a Nazi salute against the Prime Minister when he stood to vote. I did not name the individual members as a matter of courtesy because their gesture followed a very long day of votes. Also, I did not mention the Liberal Party by name, since I did not believe then and do not believe now that the members’ behaviour would be acceptable to members of that party, in particular its interim leader, nor indeed to any party in the House. My purpose was to comment on an utterly unacceptable incident which I personally found to be exceptionally offensive, and to preclude it from happening again.

However, after I spoke, the member for Malpeque rose to say that he had merely waved at the Prime Minister. Then on Friday an article appeared in The Guardian in which the member stated that there were no salutes from his side, and that he was peeved and insulted. He also said that not naming anyone created a controversy. Furthermore, the article referred to comments in the House from the member for Bourassa and the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who said I was blaming the entire opposition by not naming the individuals.

While I had not wanted to prolong this, the member’s denial and his and other members’ demands for identification of the individuals involved compel me to respond. It was in fact the member for Malpeque and the member for Vancouver Centre who raised their arms in a rigid position at a 45-degree angle, clearly the gesture of a Nazi salute. There was no ambiguity. When I saw it, I said, “disgusting” in their direction several times and they did not ask what I found so offensive. Later, when I rose on my question of privilege, the member for Vancouver Centre left the House, only to return later to stand for awhile behind the curtains in the corridor.

There are members in this House whose relatives fought and died for Canada in the Second World War and others whose relatives perished in the Holocaust. Such a vile and universally condemned gesture is particularly shocking in this place of honour and tradition. The heat of partisanship never justifies a vicious personal attack that sullies the reputation of our parliamentary democracy. I had hoped the members responsible would have apologized to the House on Thursday, or at least remained silent and then apologized to me privately. Those would have been the decent and smart things to do. Since this was not to be, I call on them to apologize now. Doing the honourable thing would permit us all to move on.

Wayne Easter: Mr. Speaker, I would agree that such a salute, as the member said, would be vile and unacceptable in this place. I would agree with that. However, as I said the other night, there was no such salute from me. I sat in my chair and I pointed at the Prime Minister. That is what I did, and I pointed exactly like this. It was not a wave and it was not, and should not have been construed as, a salute. No such thing happened on my part. I cannot answer for others in this place. If I had, I would have recognized that it was wrong and I would have apologized to the member because I agree 100% that such a salute should not be made in this place. I accept that.

Chris Warkentin: Mr. Speaker, I reluctantly stand in this House to say that I too saw the action of the member opposite and unfortunately it was not as he describes it now. Actions and words, even if accidentally done, elicit emotional responses. I believe that the actions as they would have been interpreted by any reasonable person seeing them would have been seen as the minister describes, and I believe defile the memory of the Holocaust and are something that we in this House would find reprehensible. So if the hon. member did not intend to communicate what was in fact communicated by his actions, I ask that he would apologize for how they would be interpreted because it as clear in the way it was presented that anybody would see it as a gesture that would reasonably be unacceptable in this House.

Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, the allegations made by my friend, the Minister of Natural Resources, are very troubling. Let us recall that it was a rather unusual session which came at the end of 24 hours, and if the minister will wait for me to answer the question, it is something that we all take very seriously. We all know the significance of the salute to which the minister is referring.

I want to say two things.

First, no one in this House, in this party or any other party, would condone such an act or expect such an act to go without an appropriate apology. I would also apply that to people who compare their opponents to Hitler. I would apply that to people who refer to members, like the member for Mount Royal, as an anti-Semite. I would refer that to members who, in leaflets throughout the last couple of years, have said that members of the Liberal Party of Canada, including their interim leader, are somehow anti-Israel. I would include all those things as being indeed reprehensible.

Second, what we have today is a clear statement from the member for Malpeque that he in fact did not make any such gesture. Something could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted. He has clearly indicated that. He is somebody whose record, history and work on behalf of the people of Canada would belie any such effort on his part. I think his word should be taken for what it is. That is the way this House has always operated and that is the way this House should continue to operate.




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The case of the alleged Nazi salute

  1. First they said the NDP (which was created in the 1960s) voted against fighting the Nazis in WW2. Now they are claiming that the Libs are giving the Nazi salute. What is with this strange obsession the Tories have with Nazis?

    • The truth hurts

    • LOL!

      Perhaps Joe would prefer a one-fingered salute? I’d be happy to give him one.

      • Well, that would certainly be the progressive thing to do.

  2. Methinks Bob Rae doth protest too much. He missed Pat Martin’s jackboot reference though. Oh well,birds of a feather….

  3. Goddam Conservatives! Stupid clowns! I’m getting so angry at these useless goons that if I didn’t keep myself in check I’d utter a string of expletives. Idiots they are, all of them.

    • Yes, all Conservatives are stupid. I read that all the time on these comment boards, so of course it must be true.

      • Let me rephrase this. The clowns in the HoC who pass themselves as Conservatives are in fact running some sort of Reform ideology, and yes, they’re stupid, and they really get me angry for the way they twist everything. As for real Conservatives, those who stand for fiscal responsability and small Government, those who can debate with intelligence with politicians of other creeds, well, I haven’t heard much from them since Harper is in power.

        • So per your clarification, it’s not all Conservatives that are stupid; it’s the entire Conservative caucus that’s composed of nothing but stupid people. Thanks for that.

  4. Just the fact that Hedy Fry’s name comes up lends nothing but credence to the accusation, she of “crosses burning as we speak” fame. She who falsely blamed the mayor of Prince George, B.C., for the original claim, in order to cover her a–. This is just the type of thing I’d expect from her.

    • Agreed, this isn’t out of character for Fry. It is out of character for Easter, though, so I doubt that Oliver saw what he thought he saw. At any rate, the video goal judge will have the last say.

  5. This stupidity by the opposition is a bit much . As an old war veteran these dumb bas..ards do not know what it is like when one is under a fascist government. Many of us in our senior years are so tired of watching the likes of Montreal students etc. This business about Harper being a great dictator has been overplayed by overpaid politicians and will backfire in 2015.Especially the NDP with its shout in French about 2015. Shades of De Gaulle all those separatists voted in as Federalists just played their hand three years too soon. When that clip is played in the next election it will turn off about 70% of Canadian voters and many in Quebec One country One people

    • You make an excellent point. But just so we can put the whole Fascism thing to bed, could you clarify for me what the difference between this government and a fascist government would be? I know, I could study for several weeks all about fascism, but I just don’t have the time. So I look to you to enlighten me.

      • I believe the “progressive” view is that, because of Harper and his policies, there’s no substantive difference between living in Canada today and living in Nazi Germany in, say, 1939. I mean, just look at the way our federal government treats Jews. And consider all of those concentration camps. And the utter lack of freedom of the press. And all of the opponents of the Harper Regime that have been murdered. Or disappeared. And the fact that there are no legally recognized or active political opposition parties. And so on.

        • Having fun, dude? I mean, at some point it’s just mental masturbation to comically misrepresent your opponent’s position.

          When you’re ready to join the big boy debate, you’ll have to drop this habit.

          • Actually, his amusing ventures into sarcasm is a perfect vehicle to portray the ludicrous statements by liberals on this board.

            It is important to point out the pretzel-like positions the likes of Cook and Bram and Jenn get themselves into. Their Harper-hating crusade has forced them to defend the idiocy of pampered Montreal students and the utter blasphemy of two foolish Liberal MP`s using Nazi gestures in our House of Democracy.

          • Heh – just for entertainment value, read your last sentence aloud. I mean, wow.

          • You find it amusing that Liberal MP`s choose to use a Nazi salute in the direction of Canada`s democratically elected leader ?

            You libs are getting twisted.

          • Actually, they’re not twisted, they’re progressive. And the thing is, regarding progressive people like them, they’re so much more superior than the rest of us — and certainly far more intelligent, as they frequently point out to us — that the rest of us benighted, mentally challenged types can’t even deign to judge their behaviour. They’re essentially superior beings, so if progressive people give a Nazi salute, or defend other people who give a Nazi salue, rest assured that said Nazi salute is perfectly justified. Because a progressive person said so. ‘kay?

          • Speaking of comically misrepresenting someone else’s position…

            Ok, I’ll make it a little more concrete: your sentence structure and choice of words is amusing to me. It sounds like something a homeless guy would shout on a street corner. Seriously, read it aloud.

          • And wash his hands!

        • Strawman’s gonna strawman.

    • As an old soldier you know what it’s like to live under a fascist government? Er, who were you fighting for?

  6. Keep cranking it out, Joe, you’re a virtual gold mine.

  7. I appreciate that Bob Rae said no one would condone that act, and that equally no one would condone those who “compare their opponents to Hitler”.
    Good on ya for saying that, Bob. It really does bother me that the “Hitler” epitath on comment boards is so loosely thrown around. Perhaps Bob’s remarks will have some affect.
    Perhaps the monitors of comment boards would not allow any comment to appear if there is a comparison to that vile man.

    • Yes, censorship of comments on a very specific claim about Nazis would be a great idea. Make it a cryptic challenge: you could use H!tler, but never, well you know, the real H word. Huzzah!

  8. Then there was the famous Taliban Jack.

    • ‘Standing with the child pornographers’.

  9. Why is the speaker reviewing the gesture on video? Hs ruling this week on Cotler’s point of privilege, consistent with his self-imposed impotence on all matters, was that the content of an answer is a matter for debate, not a speaker’s ruling. Why is he now proposing to interpret a gesture? Isn’t that debatable too?

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