The Conservative government is lauding one of their own MPs after he fabricated a story about voter fraud to justify tough voter identification rules in their proposed election act.
Government House leader Peter Van Loan rose in the House of Commons Tuesday to defend caucus colleague Brad Butt against charges that he acted in contempt of Parliament. Van Loan was speaking just as Leadnow.ca, supported by the opposition parties, presented a petition signed by over 50,000 Canadians condemning voter suppression provisions in the bill.
Opposition parties raised the point of privilege after Butt on Monday withdraw comments he had made a few weeks earlier. Butt said he had personally seen political operatives scooping up Elections Canada voter cards from recycling bins and used them for fraudulent purposes at polling stations. That's why it was vital to toughen up voter ID rules and outlaw the practice of "vouching" for people who lack proper identification, Butt said.
Van Loan said this was a simple case of misspeaking, so Butt should be commended for coming forward to set the record straight; Van Loan did not mention that a complaint to Elections Canada about Butt's outrageous claim had been referred to the Commissioner of Elections.
"The fact that we are even discussing this point of privilege, the fact that it has been raised is only because the Honourable Member has taken that duty seriously, has come to this House and corrected the record," Van Loan told the House of Commons.
NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen wasn't buying it. "It seems to be that the Government House Leader is now offering praise to the member for having fabricating a story entirely, and that we should give him great thanks for having returned and admitted to having misled the House. That actually isn't the kind of environment we want to create," Cullen replied.
Watch the back-and-forth:
Photo: Trevor Haché PressProgress