Prime Minister Stephen Harper was met with jeers in Question Period on Thursday after suggesting the NDP did not support the fight against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War.
Harper's assertion was vehemently refuted by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on the grounds that his party didn't even exist at the time, according to the National Post.
The exchange took place during a debate on Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. Harper admitted earlier this week that Canadian special forces troops may remain in the country until after the scheduled withdrawal in 2014. When Mulcair asked the prime minister about the extension, Harper attacked the NDP for being pacifists regardless of the situation.
"In 1939, the NDP leader didn’t even want to support the fight against Hitler," said Harper. He was immediately met with loud jeers.
After being reminded that the NDP wasn't created until the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) merged in 1961, Harper responded, "CCF, NDP, same difference,” according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Mulcair quipped back, "So let's speak about Reform Party policy."
The exchange, and the media coverage of it, even triggered a trending Twitter hashtag, #HarperHistory, mocking the PM's fuzzy facts (See tweets in slideshow below).
The CCF's leader in the late 1930s and early 1940s, J.S. Woodworth, was an uncompromising pacifist who opposed Canada's involvement in the war (the party had between seven and eight seats in the House of Commons at the time). However, after Woodworth's death in 1942, the CCF's new leader, M.J. Coldwell, altered the party's position to support the war effort. The Canadian Labour Congress did not yet exist during the war.
Whether Harper was aware of this history before making his argument remains unclear. But, perhaps Maclean's columnist Paul Wells described the PM's statement best: "Kind of sloppy there, big guy."