Stephen Harper took a swipe at Nycole Turmel Wednesday, arguing that at the very least Canadians should be able to expect their political leaders to be committed to Canada.
“I think it’s very disappointing. I don’t know that I have a lot to say but I do think Canadians will find this disappointing,” the Prime Minister told reporters, wading into the controversy that has dogged the NDP and its interim leader since The Globe and Mail revealed Ms. Turmel had been a card-carrying member of the separatist Bloc Québécois.
Mr. Harper was at Hamilton’s McMaster University making a science and research-related announcement when asked by reporters about his view on the Turmel situation.
“I think Canadians expect that any political party that wants to govern the country be unequivocally committed to this country,” he said. “That’s the minimum Canadians expect.”
Ms. Turmel, who is in St. John’s Newfoundland for the province’s famous regatta, has spent the last day in damage control, giving interviews defending her political views.
The rookie MP, who was elected in May to her West Quebec riding, said she joined the BQ to support a friend and former Bloc MP. But she says that she is a committed federalist.
Jack Layton, the NDP leader, had asked her to take over leadership of the party temporarily as he battles a new and undisclosed cancer. He expects to be back at work when the Commons returns in September.
Mr. Harper was also asked about the situation in Syria and his reaction to reports that Syrian Canadians were being targeted for supporting the anti-government protests.
He said he was not aware of anyone being targeted in Canada but said the situation in Syria is “completely unacceptable.”
“We’re certainly working with our allies to bring any pressure that we can to bear on the Syrian government to understand that they must reform ...,” he said.