03/26/2013 06:12 EDT | Updated 03/26/2013 06:17 EDT

Bob Rae: Panda Costumes For MPs Might Get Harper's Attention (VIDEO)

If backbench MPs want to get more attention from Stephen Harper they might want to take a page out of the panda playbook.

That's what interim Liberal leader Bob Rae suggested Tuesday after a group of backbench Conservative MPs staged a minor revolt over their lack of freedom to speak.

"We're dealing with a control freak government," Rae said. "Maybe if the members who are unhappy dressed up like pandas the prime minister would pay them some attention."

Rae was making reference to the greeting Harper gave in Toronto Monday to two pandas arriving on loan from the Chinese. Green Party leader Elizabeth May was among those who criticized the prime minister for paying attention to pandas instead of the arrival of a group of Cree youth from Northern Quebec who trekked 1,600 kilometres to Ottawa in support of the Idle No More Movement.

"It says a lot that Stephen Harper isn't here, that he's greeting the pandas,'' May said. "It says a lot that we need to move heaven and earth to meet First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis with respect.''

The "unhappy members" in question are Langley, B.C. MP Mark Warawa, Alberta MP Leon Benoit and Winnipeg's Rod Bruinooge.

Warawa's anger stems from being blocked from speaking in the Commons because the topic "was not approved." While Warawa did not specify the topic, it was likely his private members motion calling for condemnation of sex-selective abortion.

A vote on another abortion-related motion last year exposed rifts within the Conservative Party and was widely seen as embarrassing for Harper.

As embarrassing as awkwardly posing with caged pandas beside a Fed-Ex jet emblazoned with a massive photo of a bear chewing bamboo? You decide.

With files from The Canadian Press

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