OTTAWA – To hear it told in the House of Commons, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s minor run-in with the RCMP on Parliament Hill on Thursday could have been a scene from the latest Fast and Furious flick.
The Opposition leader was forced to apologize after breezing through a security checkpoint and apparently failing to stop until halted by the Mounties.
The NDP, in a short statement, emphasized repeatedly that the incident was a “misunderstanding” and that the officer guarding the entrance didn’t recognize Mulcair.
After what the NDP calls a “respectful discussion” with an officer, Mulcair apologized and that no warnings — or citations — were issued.
But that’s pretty much where respectful ended.
Conservatives were quick to not only mock the NDP leader, but to use the incident as a political hammer, with Heritage Minister James Moore saying it demonstrates Mulcair “does not have the temperament to be the prime minister of Canada.”
Statements by Conservative MPs and answers during the House of Commons question period were sprinkled with references to Mulcair and allusions to his alleged temper.
Mulcair was absent from question period.
“I would like to answer the NDP leader’s real question from today,” said Moore, who seemed to delight in recounting the incident to a raucous Commons. “He asked the question: ‘Do you know who I am?’
“Turns out we know who the NDP leader is. He ran through five stop signs, as reported. He refused to pull over to the RCMP when they asked him to pull over. And then when he was finally confronted by an RCMP officer, he said to her: ‘Do you know who I am?’ ”
Conservative MP Candice Bergen said the incident shows Mulcair’s “complete lack of judgment.”
The incident was used as a shield when it came time to ask about a newly launched RCMP investigation into the $90,000 cheque Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff wrote to bail Sen. Mike Duffy out of the housing expense scandal.
Moore responded to a question on Wright with a swipe at Mulcair.
“Is the leader of the NDP being investigated for running five stop signs?” the minister asked. “Is the leader of the NDP being investigated for not listening to an RCMP officer? And is the leader of the NDP at some point going to show up in this House and apologize to Canadians for breaking the law?”
Two-and-a-half years ago, Conservatives were on the receiving end of similar barbs when Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre drew the wrath of the RCMP after he blew past an RCMP check point on the Hill because he didn’t feel like waiting.
Not to be left out on Thursday, the Liberals, with a straight face, put forward a motion urging the Commons to not only recognize the service the RCMP provides on the Hill, but also to remind members and staff of traffic regulations.
It passed unanimously.