07/10/2013 06:17 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 06:25 EDT

Thomas Mulcair's Lac-Megantic Comments: NDP Leader Denies He Linked Disaster To Tories


NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has denied he linked the tragic rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic with Conservative budget cuts in advance of his visit to the devastated Quebec town last weekend.

Mulcair drew the ire of both Conservatives and Liberals on Saturday for reportedly suggesting to CTV News that Tory policies directly contributed to a derailment and explosion that has now killed at least fifteen, with dozens still missing.

The NDP leader was immediately accused of political opportunism by pundits and rivals. Former interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae tweeted that Mulcair "blaming" Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "a new low."

"And, as you know, I’m no fan of Mr. Harper’s politics," Rae wrote.

But Mulcair denied using some of the language used in the CTV report during an interview on Wednesday with CBC News.

When asked whether it was appropriate to say the accident was "another case where government is cutting in the wrong area," Mulcair, who is in Paris for a three-day work trip, said he did not use those words.

"It's not a quote from me," he told CBC News. "I've been prudent not to draw the exact link."

Mulcair also reportedly told CBC News: "You won’t find that quote from me."

But in the CTV video, Mulcair is clearly shown using the very quote in question.

"Governments have to regulate in the public interest, nothing more important in what governments do than taking care of the safety of the public," he told CTV. "And this is another case where the government has been cutting in the wrong area."

He also accused the "Conservative government" of cutting transport safety in Canada at a time when more petroleum products are being transported by rail.


Mulcair's comments sparked a big backlash on Twitter over the weekend, as you can see in the gallery below.

But the debate over the appropriateness of Mulcair’s remarks also prompted hundreds of comments on HuffPost Canada’s Politics page.

Some felt his words were spot on, others said they crossed the line. Some suggested that while they may have been appropriate in his function as an opposition leader, they were a little too soon.

"Mulcair's comments were factually based. Sometimes the truth will ruffle some feathers," wrote HuffPost reader scottdee.

"I do not agree that the comments were fair,” wrote Ikvk101. "There is such a thing as common sense and politicians had better have some when they are speaking in these types of situations."

The most-liked comment on The Huffington Post Canada Politics page on Facebook suggested it was all a bit of "gotcha" journalism and politics.

"Sometimes people just need to say what's said though," Adam Young wrote. "Politics can't always be about the game of it all."

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Lac-Megantic Explosions, Fire See Gallery