WATCH: Questions from NDP leader Tom Mulcair about Canada’s role in taking on ISIS in Iraq went unanswered, and led to a fiery exchange in the House of Commons. Vassy Kapelos reports.
TORONTO – Tempers flared during question period Tuesday after Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair questioned House Speaker Andrew Scheer’s neutrality. The accusation came when the NDP leader’s repeated questions about Canada’s Iraq mission failed to be answered by the government.
Mulcair opened question period with three questions about the advisory mission Canada has undertaken in Iraq.
Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, responded to Mulcair with questions about Alex Anderson, who identifies himself as an NDP fundraiser, who criticised the Israeli Defence Forces. Calandra asked whether the fundraiser’s views represented the party’s position on Israel.
After his first question about Iraq went unanswered, Mulcair replied: “Mr. Speaker, I can understand the confusion. We are in the Middle East and we are under the i’s, but we are talking about Iraq.” He continued with a second question about Canadian troop deployment in Iraq as part of the mission.
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Calandra countered with another answer pertaining to Israel.
“Mr. Speaker, what does the Leader of the Opposition not understand? Our friends in Israel are on the front lines, combatting terrorism,” said Calandra.
Following the exchange, Mulcair turned to Scheer saying there are “rules in the book” about question period. “You are our arbiter. We ask you to enforce the rules.”
Mulcair asked another question about Iraq, which drew more remarks from Calandra about Israel. He then stood up, turned to Scheer and said, “Well Mr. Speaker, that does not speak very favourably about your neutrality in this House.”
His remark immediately drew a chorus of applause and jeers from the House, before Scheer revoked Mulcair’s final two questions and moved on to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s first question.
In response to the bizarre exchange Green Party Leader Elizabeth May calling the day’s events “shocking.”
Following question period, Mulcair told reporters that he asked “straight up questions.”
“There was nothing complicated about it. We got an answer that had nothing to do with the question, that included swear words,” he said.
Mulcair added that in the future “all we can do is hope that the rules of Parliament will be enforced and respected.”