TORONTO - The tangled tale of the twisted tweet finally came to an end at the Ontario legislature Thursday with a straightforward apology from a rookie cabinet minister.
Innovation Minister Glen Murray again said he was sorry for a tweet that called Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and Toronto Mayor-elect Rob Ford bigots.
This time Murray did not add any qualifiers that suggested, as he did in his previous two days of mea culpas, that Conservatives are anti-gay.
"Sometimes we do things that are regrettable," Murray told the legislature.
"I have apologized over the last two days in every way I can imagine, unqualified. I regret my remarks. I'm not sure how many other ways I can apologize."
That's all the Opposition was looking for, said Hudak.
"I thought the minister finally on the third day did apologize, and I do accept that," he said.
"I objected very strongly because they were baseless and outrageous accusations that were way over the line."
The openly gay Murray, who was promoted to the Ontario cabinet just two months ago, sent the tweet calling the three high-profile conservatives bigots after becoming enraged over homophobic tactics that surfaced in the last days of the Toronto mayoral race.
What so angered Hudak, after the initial tweet, was a line in Murray's first apology that suggested there were anti-gay bigots in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
"I do challenge Tim Hudak to condemn strongly the hateful campaigning deployed in Toronto, and to root out any of those working in his ranks who would try to exploit hatred with smear tactics," Murray wrote Tuesday.
Murray still wouldn't say Thursday why he named Harper, Hudak and Ford in a tweet after getting angry over anti-gay attacks in Toronto, but insisted he wasn't suggesting Tories are homophobic.
"I didn’t suggest that, and I’m not suggesting that," Murray said outside the legislature.
"I apologize if someone misconstrued it that way."
Murray said communications technology is changing so fast it's moved beyond what was in use during his time as mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004, and admitted he'll be more circumspect before posting future tweets.
"When I was mayor of Winnipeg we used to do email town halls where we’d get q-and-a’s with constituents and that was very engaging and positive, but it takes getting used to," he said.
"There's lessons learned in these things and we all have a bit of humility for things, and when you come back into public life you come back to a new standard of review and you have to conduct yourself with a great deal more care."
Murray also posted tweets during the G20 summit in Toronto that were highly critical of police, complained Hudak.
"I just think this shows the minister has an overall serious judgment problem and I wonder if Premier McGuinty is going to rein him in," said Hudak.
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