Van Loan apologizes and blames Comartin; May gives her two cents

OTTAWA – Government House Leader Peter Van Loan is apologizing for some off-colour language he used during a verbal dust-up with his NDP counterpart.

Van Loan acknowledges he used an inappropriate word during the confrontation with Nathan Cullen of the NDP on Wednesday.

Microphones were shut off during the incident, but video tape shows Van Loan waving his finger at Cullen and speaking in a heated manner.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Cullen’s seat mate, stands up, whereupon a number of New Democrats surround Van Loan and appear to urge him to leave.

Finally, Defence Minister Peter MacKay rushes over, puts his hand on Van Loan’s shoulder and ushers him back across the centre aisle of the Commons to the government benches.

The argument came after an NDP attempt to have a vote on the government’s omnibus budget bill ruled invalid because Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had been absent, even though he was named as the mover of the motion to pass the bill.

Van Loan blamed the snafu on deputy Speaker Joe Comartin, a New Democrat.

But he admitted his choice of words was wrong.

“I do acknowledge that I did use an inappropriate word when I was discussing this matter with the Opposition House leader,” he told the Commons on Thursday.

“I should not have done that and I do apologize for that.”

Cullen says he still wants to discuss the matter privately with Speaker Andrew Scheer.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May got in a brief comment on the fracas: “I can only conclude the government House leader is a sore winner.”

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