Barely 24 hours after criticizing “the politics of personal attacks” and vowing to run a positive and inclusive Liberal Party campaign in 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Conservatives questioning the transfer of convicted child-murderer Terri-Lynne McClintic from prison to a healing lodge of being “ambulance-chasing politicians.”
Trudeau later doubled down on his use of the term, saying of his Opposition critics that, “If they’re upset, it’s probably because it stings a bit.”
WATCH: Trudeau doubles down on calling Conservatives ‘ambulance chasers’
Conservatives have been demanding answers as to why McClintic, serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford in 2009, was transferred to a facility meant to prepare inmates for reintegration into society less than 10 years into her sentence.
On Wednesday, Tory deputy leader MP Lisa Raitt rose in the House of Commons to challenge the Trudeau Liberals to “do the right thing,” and ensure McClintic is transferred back to prison.
Trudeau responded by contrasting his Liberals, who he described as a party that respects the independence of the judicial system and professionalism of correctional services, with the Conservatives, whom he dubbed “a party of ambulance-chasing politicians.”
The remark drew howls of derision from Opposition benches.
“At least the prime minister can show some kind of emotion,” Raitt retorted, “even though it’s self-righteous indignation that we would actually question him on an issue that’s as important as making sure that convicted killers of children are in appropriate institutions.”
Raitt concluded, “If he’s blind to it, get out of the way and let us go back to government and get this right.”
A Tory motion condemning McClintic’s transfer was later defeated after both the Liberals and the NDP voted against it.
WATCH: What a healing lodge is and why child murderer McClintic is serving time there
Trudeau left the House of Commons and did not take part in that vote, instead heading directly to reporters waiting outside to criticize Conservatives for dwelling on the matter.
“During the course of debate when the Conservatives yet again brought up in terrible detail the tragic case of Tori Stafford and the loss her family has suffered, I referred to them as a group of ambulance-chasing politicians, or accused them of practising ambulance-chasing politics,” Trudeau said.
“This is unfortunate that the House has gotten to a place where there is such use of terrible tragedies for political gain. It is something that I will always be clear to Canadians that I hope this House is better than.
“The Conservatives are terribly upset that I referred to them as practising ambulance-chasing politics. But if they are upset, it’s probably because it stings a bit.”
Trudeau’s remarks were criticized by Tori Stafford’s father Rodney, who told Global News that he was in favour of the Conservative motion and that he wished the issue wasn’t so politicized.
WATCH: Tori Stafford’s father reacts to Trudeau calling Conservatives “ambulance-chasing politicians
Rodney Stafford took to Facebook last week to implore with Trudeau to ensure that McClintic completes her sentence behind bars. He also wrote a letter to Trudeau.
The Prime Minister’s Office told Global News that Trudeau responded directly, but Stafford contradicted that claim, saying Wednesday that he hasn’t heard from Trudeau.