Conservatives push back when asked why they cracked open bottle, launched into song at meeting
What is clear, comes in a glass bottle and gets served up in red plastic cups?
That is the question after a meeting to elect a new MP as chair of the Canadian NATO parliamentary association descended into chaos Tuesday night with what appear to be Conservative staffers and at least one Conservative MP, Garnett Genuis, seen in video obtained by Global News breaking into a rendition of Stan Rogers’ Barrett’s Privateers while pouring and passing around a bottle of unknown liquid.
Several other Conservative MPs including Shannon Stubbs and Kellie Leitch are seen to be nearby but do not participate.
Another Conservative MP, Stephanie Kusie can also be seen whispering something to Genuis before declining what appears to be an offered cup and walking away.
When asked what was in the cup, Genuis said on his way into question period “it tasted like gasoline” and had been purchased by one of his staffers.
WATCH BELOW: Conservative MP says liquid poured in meeting room ‘tasted like gasoline’
But he pushed back against questions about whether it was appropriate for an MP to be drinking in the workplace given the number of concerns raised over the past year about the prevalence of alcohol and the need for workplace cultural shifts on Parliament Hill.
“Sometimes after-hours drinking happens on Parliament Hill. Is that a surprise?” Genuis said.
“Do you think it’s proper for an MP at a social event to consume alcohol with their staff?”
“Is your objection that you think when MPs are at social event with staff they should drink out of glass cups?”
The meeting room, however, was not hosting a reception or party; it was hosting a parliamentary association meeting.
Conservative MP Peter Kent also defended his colleague, Genuis, prior to the beginning of question period.
When asked if that meant he thought the behaviour was acceptable, he said, “A lot of things happen on the Hill that shouldn’t happen on the Hill,” and added there are other issues that deserve attention.
Hundreds of Conservative and Liberal MPs met just down the hall from the House of Commons on Tuesday evening for the annual general meeting of the NATO parliamentary association, which consists of MPs and senators who work on promoting closer ties between Canada and the organization.
Up until last night, the association had been chaired by Leona Alleslev, the former Liberal MP for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill who crossed the floor to join the Conservatives last month.
WATCH BELOW: Leona Alleslev explains why she’s leaving the Liberal party to join the Conservatives
But the Liberals moved at the meeting to replace her with another Liberal MP, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who one government official says then was jeered by opposition members in the room as “Putin.”
Wrzesnewskyj is a Ukrainian-Canadian MP who announced last week he will not seek re-election in 2019.
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole accused the Liberals on Twitter of using the “farcical meeting tonight for no other reason than to extract political revenge on an MP who had lost confidence in them.”
The other 11 parliamentary associations are also either chaired by a government MP or co-chaired by both a government MP and a senator.
Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus is the vice-chair of the association in question.
Keeping Alleslev in the chair position would have made the association the only one currently being led by a non-government MP.
However, Alleslev is also a veteran of the Canadian Forces, something O’Toole said should have merited her being able to keep the job.
Following question period, the Conservatives raised a point of order in the House of Commons arguing that the Liberals rammed through the vote.
Several members rose to speak about the point of order, calling it “illegitimate” and saying they had not been given adequate notice.
They also argued the vote to replace Alleslev did not follow the rules of the association and that Alleslev’s adjournment in her role as chair before the ousting should have marked the end of the meeting.
Conservative MP Randy Hoback also rose to say, “I think a lot of members need to take a lot of thought what their behaviour was on both sides of the aisle.”
No ruling on the point of order has yet been issued.
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