Teresa Wright - The federal Natural Resources Minister called on Malpeque MP Wayne Easter to apologize Monday for what he insists was a Nazi salute directed at the prime minister in the House of Commons last week.
During question period in Ottawa Monday, Joe Oliver said he felt he must respond to an article published in The Guardian on Saturday in which Easter denied making a Nazi salute during the marathon voting session on the omnibus budget bill last Thursday.
He said Easter and Liberal MP for Vancouver-Centre Hedy Fry both made a salute.
“(They) raised their arms in a rigid position at a 45-degree angle, clearly the gesture of a Nazi salute,” Oliver said in the House Monday.
“There was no ambiguity. When I saw it, I said, ‘disgusting’ in their direction several times and they did not ask what I found so offensive.”
He called on them both to apologize.
“Doing the honourable thing would permit us all to move on,” Oliver said.
Fellow Tory backbencher Chris Warkentin ‘reluctantly’ said he too witnessed Easter and Fry making the gestures and that they did appear to be Nazi salutes.
He said they should apologize even if it was unintentional, as this gesture evokes an emotional response.
“I ask that he would apologize for how they would be interpreted because it was clear in the way it was presented that anybody would see it as a gesture that would reasonably be unacceptable in this House,” Warkentin said.
Easter again flatly denied the accusation. He reiterated his explanation he was merely pointing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“No such thing happened on my part,” he said.
“If I had, I would have recognized that it was wrong and I would have apologized to the member because I agree 100 per cent that such a salute should not be made in this place.”
Liberal Leader Bob Rae flew to Easter’s defense.
He called the allegations ‘troubling’ and stated that no one in the Liberal or any party would condone such an act.
“He is somebody whose record, history and work on behalf of the people of Canada would belie any such effort on his part. I think his word should be taken for what it is,” Rae said of Easter.
In addressing the issue when it first arose last week, deputy speaker Denise Savoie said she didn’t see the gesture and told the MPs to move on. Cameras in the House of Commons were not on the two MPs at the time of salutes are alleged to have occurred.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May chimed in on the issue Monday on Twitter. She sits behind Easter and Fry in the parliamentary chamber.
“I went to the Speaker to say if anything like that had happened, I would have seen it. Misinterpretation of an innocent gesture,” May tweeted Monday.
In an interview Monday evening, Easter said despite making accusations against him on a touchy subject, he bears no ill will to Oliver.
“I don’t agree with the policies he’s pursuing in Natural Resources all the time for sure, but I think he’s a very well-meaning individual.”
He added he hopes to move on from the matter and “get back to the real issues.”