News Canada

Canadian flag is 'internal issue' for Quebec, says Mulcair

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau
John Carmichael, MPP Don Valley West.

John Carmichael, MPP Don Valley West.

OTTAWA - NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said it's not his job to chew out separatist Quebec Premier Pauline Marois after she twice hid the Canadian flag during swearing-in ceremonies for her new government this week.

"When was the last time you saw someone in the federal government call out a provincial government on an internal issue like that?" he said on Wednesday.

However, Mulcair has intervened recently in other provincial issues.

He campaigned for Ontario's NDP in a provincial byelection this month, urging voters to deny the Liberals a majority.

Mulcair has also criticized Alberta's oilsands, saying their "model for development is Nigeria."

Meanwhile, the Conservative MP from Toronto who wrapped himself in the flag with a private member's bill to defend the right to fly it wouldn't go near the Maple Leaf on Wednesday.

John Carmichael's office abruptly cancelled an interview on Sun News Network to talk about Marois' actions and his bill.

After Sun News Network reported the cancellation, Carmichael's staff claimed no interview was ever agreed to and demanded the station withdraw the story.

Sun News Network stands by its reporting.

In the e-mail sent to Sun News Network cancelling the interview, his staff sent a statement from the Toronto-area MP that was cribbed from a day-old e-mail issued by Heritage Minister James Moore saying Quebecers don't "wish to revisit old constitutional battles of the past."

Nonetheless, Sun News Network tried to interview Carmichael outside the House of Commons Wednesday but, rather than repeat the statement his office had e-mailed, Carmichael offered only a blunt "no comment" before rushing away

Legions of Tories leaving their caucus meeting on Wednesday ignored questions about failing to stand up to separatists, with few willing to comment.

Tory MP Rick Dykstra said he takes the whole issue in stride.

"You're going to hear this every now and again, for (Marois) to try and stir things up and it's not going to work," he said.

Only Conservative MP David Tilson was willing to frown on Marois.

"I don't like it," said Tilson. "I'm a Canadian. People in Quebec are Canadian and they should respect our flag."

Liberal MP Marc Garneau calls hiding the Canadian flag at Quebec's legislature "regrettable," but won't speculate why the Tories haven't condemned it.