04/13/2016 05:22 EDT | Updated 04/13/2016 06:21 EDT

Harjit Sajjan Beats Back Tory Accusation Liberals Have 'Visceral Hatred' Of Military

Sajjan's response? "Let's not play this ridiculous game."

Conservative accusations that the Liberals harbour "disdain" and "visceral hatred" for the Canadian military sparked a sharp rebuke from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in question period Wednesday.

But an exasperated eye-roll from a Liberal backbencher may have spoken even louder.

Liberal MP Nick Whalen reacts to Tory MP Cheryl Gallant's remarks.

Tory MPs were critical that last month's federal budget punted $3.7 billion in planned defence spending and suggested the Liberals were already using a defence review to chart a path to reducing the Canadian Armed Forces.

Associate Tory defence critic Pierre Paul-Hus, a veteran himself, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has "paved the way" to weakening the armed forces by not acquiring F-35 fighter jets and promising to "replace combat capacity" with peacekeeping.

Sajjan shot back that the defence review was about making sure the military has what it needs for the future, and said the government was committed to replacing Canada's aging fighter jets and supporting the military.

Remark sparks groans

Paul-Hus suggested Liberals prefer handling defence questions behind closed doors and in committees where they won't be disturbed.

"This is dangerous when we know their visceral hatred toward the Canadian Armed Forces," he said in French, according to a translator. The remark sparked groans.

"They're the ones who gave us leaky submarines and helicopters that can't take off."

"To hear that in this House is actually quite insulting, to be honest."

— Harjit Sajjan

Paul-Hus asked the minister to confirm the national defence policy hasn't already been written by Trudeau. But his earlier quip didn't sit well with Sajjan, who is also an ex-soldier.

"To hear that in this House is actually quite insulting, to be honest," he said, adding that he has personally met with Paul-Hus to discuss these matters.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Sajjan warned about going down to such a "level" by suggesting that any member of Parliament doesn't support the troops.

"Every member in this House supports our military. Let's not play this ridiculous game," he said, sparking applause from the Liberal bench.

Earlier, Tory MP Cheryl Gallant called the budget a "deceitful betrayal" of every Canadian who has ever served in the military.

She also called the defence review a "shameful" attempt to cover up "the disdain" Grits hold for the military.

Sajjan responded, but his remarks paled in comparison to the facial expressions of Liberal backbencher Nick Whalen, seated exactly two rows behind Gallant.

Watch Gallant's full question and Whalen's reaction below:


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