A Liberal MP called out a few unnamed Conservatives for supposedly laughing at Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi’s past as a public transit bus driver.
Sohi, who immigrated to Canada from India as a teenager, worked as a bus driver for more than a decade before he was elected to Edmonton city council in 2007, according to The Toronto Star.
Sohi reflected briefly on that experience in question period Tuesday when a Liberal backbencher asked a softball question about how public transit supports the middle class.
“Mr. Speaker, as a former bus driver...” Sohi began.
The preamble sparked laughter across the aisle, which appeared to visibly upset other ministers and parliamentary secretaries seated near Sohi.
Watch the moment below:
“What’s the matter with that?” a man could be heard asking.
It wasn’t an ideal time for a chuckle, as it turns out. Sohi was trying to share thoughts and prayers for a Winnipeg Transit bus driver who was stabbed while on duty. The driver, Irvine Fraser, later died of his injuries.
Sohi attempted to elaborate on different transit projects the government is supporting but ran out of time and was cut off.
On Wednesday, Toronto MP Adam Vaughan was peeved enough about the incident to rise on a point of order after question period to chastise members of the Opposition.
"Words and actions carry weight," he said.
"Laughing at the previous employment status of a member of this House is offensive, especially when that service was done in public service to the people of this country."
Vaughan said he thought he spoke for many members of the House in saying that "laughing at the previous employment status of a member of this House is offensive, especially when that service was done in public service to the people of this country.”
Every member’s “diversity of employment” adds to the richness of the House, Vaughan said. He asked for the laughter to be withdrawn.
Tory House Leader Candice Bergen rose to say she agreed.
Bergen said that while there is “all kinds of laughter” that occurs in the chamber, the very reason it is called a House of Commons is because MPs represent people from all walks of life.
“We absolutely respect and honour all of the jobs that we have done and the experiences that we bring to this House,” Bergen said.
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