OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is subtly condoning bigotry by refusing to discipline a Conservative MP over a vulgar anti-gay slur, say the Liberals.
Liberal Scott Brison, one of several gay MPs, said Harper’s refusal to strip Tom Lukiwski of his duties as a parliamentary secretary “debases” the institution of Parliament.
The prime minister’s “tepid” response to the affair also suggests that “hate prejudice and bigotry are just fine in his Canada,” Brison told the House of Commons on Friday.
Lukiwski was caught on videotape during a boozy party at Progressive Conservative campaign headquarters during the 1991 Saskatchewan election. He pontificated about the difference between himself and “homosexual faggots with dirt in their fingernails that transmit diseases.”
The Regina MP apologized Thursday and repeated that Friday to the House. In particular, he sought the forgiveness of gay friends and colleagues whom he acknowledged must have been aghast at his comments.
“To them I say, I’m truly sorry . . . To the entire gay and lesbian community, I also want to extend my deepest and most abject apologies.”
He said the remarks were “stupid, thoughtless and insensitive,” and do not reflect his personal beliefs.
Peter Van Loan, the government’s House leader, said the government is satisfied that Lukiwski’s apology was “quick, complete and unequivocal” and declared the matter closed.
Lukiwski made no attempt to rationalize his remarks or explain the context in which they were uttered. Indeed, he said the gay and lesbian community is justified in being furious with him.
“The comments I made . . . should not be tolerated in any society. They should not be tolerated today, they should not have been tolerated in 1991, they should not have been tolerated in years previous to that.”
Lukiwski insisted he is not anti-gay and the comments don’t reflect his personal beliefs either then or now.
“Which lends itself to the obvious question . . . if I didn’t mean what I said why did I say those things to begin with? The only explanation, Mr. Speaker, that I can give to you and the members of this House is that I was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive.”
Lukiwski concluded: “I will spend the rest of my career and my life trying to make up for those shameless comments.”
Saskatchewan New Democrats found the videotape of Lukiwski, Premier Brad Wall and others, which contains sexist, racist and homophobic comments.