Jack Layton’s widow Olivia Chow accepted an apology Monday from a Conservative MP who suggested NDP leader Thomas Mulcair “hastened” the death of her husband.
Conservative Calgary MP Rob Anders was quoted in a report on iPolitics.ca saying Mulcair had pushed his ailing predecessor into the 2011 federal election campaign, despite detrimental risks to his health.
Other NDP MPs, however, were less refined than Chow – “What a complete d**khead,” said Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer.
Stoffer hadn’t heard of the report until he was approached by media on his way into Question Period.
“As we say in the East Coast: are you absolutely fricken serious? Did he say that?” Stoffer asked, after the story was explained. “That’s insane … I cannot believe he said that.”
Stoffer said the comments are grounds for Anders’ removal from Parliament.
“If you have that kind of an attitude … You can maybe not like the leader of the Opposition, but to even indicate in any possible way that Mr. Mulcair was responsible for Layton’s death, that’s just incredible,” the NDP MP said, clearly shaken.
“In my 15 years as a member of Parliament, I have never heard anyone be as cold and as callous,” he said.
In the report, Anders said Mulcair, behind the scenes, told Layton he should step down because of his health, which only drove Layton to step it up and “put his life at risk” for the campaign.
Through the spring 2011 campaign, Layton led his party to its best-ever election results, leapfrogging over the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois to land in official Opposition.
Mulcair was quickly fingered as a frontrunner following Layton’s August 2011 death, and eventually won the leadership race.
Later Monday morning, Anders issued a public statement apologizing for the remarks, calling them “insensitive and inconsiderate.”
Layton’s widow and NDP MP Chow went before the cameras outside the House of Commons to accept the Conservative’s apology.
She said it’s time everybody, including Anders, to stop tossing around “conspiracy theories” on the circumstances surrounding Layton’s final days, during which he succumbed to an as-yet undisclosed cancer.
“Let’s move forward,” she said. “Let’s work for a cure for cancer. Let’s work together for a better country.”
The prime minister’s office distanced itself from Anders’ comments soon after the article was published online.
“To be clear, Mr. Anders’ comments regarding Jack Layton in no way represent the views of (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) or the government,” Harper’s director of communications said via Twitter.
Anders, first elected in 1997, is no stranger to controversy — he once denied Nelson Mandela of Canadian citizenship and called him a terrorist.
Anders was also recently booted from the House of Commons veterans affairs committee after falling asleep during a presentation from veterans and later calling them NDP hacks.
With a file from The Canadian Press.