POLITICS
03/21/2018 12:12 EDT | Updated 03/21/2018 12:16 EDT

Amarjeet Sohi Alleges Tories Disrespect People Who Use Buses After More Question Period Laughter

Conservatives are pressing for details on $186B in planned spending.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi responds to a question in the House of Commons on  June 15, 2017.
Amarjeet Sohi/CP
Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi responds to a question in the House of Commons on June 15, 2017.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi is alleging Conservative MPs lack respect for Canadians who drive or use public buses after Tories again laughed at him in question period.

Sohi took to Twitter Monday to harken back to an incident from last year when some Tories in the House of Commons chuckled after Sohi invoked his past career as an Edmonton bus driver.

"First they laughed at me for being a bus driver, today they laughed because we are buying buses to improve public transit," he wrote. "Seem likes CPC MP's lack respect for Canadians who use buses and those who drive them to move our community members."

Conservatives highlighted in the House that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has asked Liberals to make clear how they will spend $186.7 billion in infrastructure funds over the next 12 years.

"The Parliamentary Budget Officer requested the new plan, but it does not exist," Tory finance critic Pierre Poilievre said. "How is it even possible to spend $186 billion without a plan?"

Sohi touted that Liberal spending is already helping communities "ignored" by the last government achieve better public transit.

"The City of Halifax has purchased 20 buses with our plan, buses that are improving service in that community," he said. "For the first time in the history of Red Deer, we are investing in that community to improve the public transportation system."

"Mr. Speaker, I ask what is the plan to spend $180 billion on infrastructure, and he says, 'We got 20 buses.' Congratulations. Now we know the Liberal plan," Poilievre said with a smile, sparking big laughs from his side.

"How much does that work out to per bus?"

Parlvu screengrab
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre cracks up in question period on March 21, 2018.

Sohi apparently didn't find the question all that funny, saying that people in Halifax and Red Deer know buses reduce gridlock and improve the quality of their lives.

"It is so sad to see that opposition members don't understand how critical transportation infrastructure is for communities," he said, spurring applause from Liberal benches.

Sohi came to Canada from India as a teenager and worked as a bus driver for more than 10 years before he was elected to Edmonton city council in 2007.

During question period in February 2017, Sohi mentioned his past career in the preamble to his response to a Liberal backbencher's question. When the remark was greeted with some laughter, Liberal MPs around Sohi appeared to be visibly upset.

Liberal MP Adam Vaughan later stated in the House that "laughing at the previous employment status of a member of this House is offensive." Tory House Leader Candice Bergen said she agreed.

While the incident sparked criticism and commentary, it's hard to tell if it was the reference to Sohi's old job or just the fact that he was facing a softball question from his own side on that day that yielded the laughs.

Similarly, some Twitter users told Sohi that the laughter he faced Monday was really about him not answering Poilievre's question about the PBO report.

HuffPost Canada has reached out to Poilievre to get his response to Sohi's tweets.

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