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Flanked by cabinet colleague Lisa Raitt, Helena Guergis, minister of state for status of somen, takes take part in a Walk For The Cure event on Parliament Hill on September 17, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Flanked by cabinet colleague Lisa Raitt, Helena Guergis, minister of state for status of somen, takes take part in a Walk For The Cure event on Parliament Hill on September 17, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Liberals want Helena Guergis fired Add to ...

Wasting no time to pounce on Conservative misfortune, the Liberals are calling on the Prime Minister to sack a member of his cabinet after an ugly incident at Charlottetown Airport.

Helena Guergis, the Conservative minister of state for the status of women, apologized publicly yesterday for speaking "emotionally" to Air Canada staff last weekend in PEI. The MP for Simcoe-Grey arrived late, blew through security check (at one point throwing her boots, according to a witness), swore and spoke disparagingly of the province.

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"Stephen Harper needs to hold his ministers to a higher standard and go beyond insincere apologies and childish excuses," Liberal MP Anita Neville said today in a statement. "He needs to ask her to step down. Ms. Guergis' behaviour is completely unacceptable of any citizen, let alone a Minister of the Crown."

News of the incident came on the same day the government sent out Transport Minister John Baird to announce extra security charges for air travellers (a new tax, some might say).

"Airport security measures and staff are in place for our safety," Ms. Neville added. "Arriving late for a flight does not allow you to circumvent these procedures, nor does it allow you to treat staff disrespectfully.

Also decrying Ms. Guergis's record advancing women's rights, the Liberal MP concluded: "An apology is not enough. She must resign now."

Other parliamentarians were unimpressed with Ms. Guergis's behaviour, but were satisfied with her retraction.

"If you're going to lose your temper, you do it behind closed doors, not in public," NDP Peter Stoffer told The Globe on Thursday. "We're all human, we all screw up and make mistakes, but hopefully she learns from this."

The junior minister also found a small measure of sympathy in the press.

Calling the incident a medal-worthy performance, the National Post's Kelly McParland went so far as to say: "Thank you for acting like a normal human being up against the blank stare of pointless government harassment. Thanks for doing what we'd all like to do, standing up for a bit of common sense."

(File photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

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Update While conceding that "this was obviously unacceptable behaviour" and noting that the junior minister has issued a public apology, the government couldn't resist digging back into its clipping files from the years 2002 and 2000 to fire back with a barb of its own.

"I don't remember the Liberals calling for John McCallum's resignation when he had his airline difficulties, or for Sheila Copps's resignation over her airline incident," a senior Conservative official said.

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