Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he was the victim of a "cheap shot" in question period on Monday after a New Democrat MP threw a dig at his intelligence.
Toews, a political veteran who rarely pulls punches, was accused by the opposition of having misplaced priorities concerning allegations of sexual harassment in the RCMP.
The minister said Tories have taken "strong action to restore pride in Canada’s national police force" and admitted in the House that harassment, particularly that of a sexual nature, is a problem in the RCMP.
But his comments were not good enough for Rosane Doré Lefebvre, the NDP’s deputy critic for public safety.
"The minister has shown once again that he is living intellectually beyond his means," she said.
Lefebvre said Bill C-42, which replaces the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP with a civilian commission and gives the RCMP commissioner new powers to probe and resolve internal harassment disputes, is just a "Band-Aid solution."
"Why are the Conservatives flatly rejecting the idea that the commissioner should only be accountable to the minister and why do they flatly reject the idea of civilian governance for the RCMP?" she asked.
Toews immediately responded that he wouldn’t get into the same kind of "cheap shots" as his rival. Some other MPs in the House could be heard laughing.
"I may not have been blessed with the same intelligence she has, but I try to make up for it with hard work," he said. "I try to work with my colleagues here in the House. We have brought good legislation forward that would transform the RCMP. Unfortunately, that member and her party have consistently stood in the way of meaningful reform."
Later, Tory MP Shelly Glover rose on a point of order to ask Lefebvre to retract her statement. NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said New Democrats would examine precisely what was said, but also called on Toews to raise the level of decorum in the House as well.
Toews sparked outrage last year while introducing controversial legislation to make electronic surveillance easier for police and spies.
He told a Liberal MP he could either stand with the government or "with the child pornographers" prowling online.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she was "horrified" by such rhetoric.
"Apparently if you care about civil liberties in this country you obviously side with child pornographers, murderers," she said.
Gerald Butts, close friend and adviser to Justin Trudeau, later suggested the dig may have been obliquely aimed at the new Liberal leader. Trudeau’s one-time roommate Christopher Ingvaldson was charged with accessing and possessing images of child pornography in 2010.
What do you think? Was Lefebvre's quip over the line? Tell us in the comments.
With files from The Canadian Press
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