Skip to main content

Prime Minister Paul Martin said he will discuss his outspoken backbench Liberal MP, Carolyn Parrish, later Thursay.

Asked about the maverick MP after a cabinet meeting, Mr. Martin said he would have something to say later in the day.

Ms. Parrish said Wednesday she will not tone down her criticisms of U.S. President George W. Bush when he visits Ottawa this month, and Prime Minister Paul Martin's team can "go to hell" if they don't like it.

Ms. Parrish, an outspoken MP who has called Americans "bastards" and Mr. Bush "warlike," fired several broadsides at her own party leader, saying she won't cry if he loses the next election and is forced out of the leadership.

Most Liberals lined up yesterday to insist they would be on their best behaviour during the visit, and Ms. Parrish insisted that she would not heckle the President if he addresses Parliament. But as she prepared to meet Mr. Martin later Wednesday, she gave an interview saying she won't silence her criticism outside the Commons, or toe Mr. Martin's line.

"And if he wants to know why he can't control me, I have absolutely no loyalty to this team. None," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "After what they've put me through and lots of my colleagues, they can all go to hell. But he's not going to control me, so all he's going to do is end up looking weak."

Ms. Parrish said she's "not out to get" Mr. Martin, but lost respect for him when he did not intervene in her bitter nomination battle with former MP Steve Mahoney and does not care what happens to the Liberal Leader now. "If he loses the next election and he has to resign, I wouldn't shed a tear over it," she said.

A spokesman for Mr. Martin refused to make any comment. Liberal MPs buzzed that Ms. Parrish, the MP for Mississauga-Erindale, would now have to be kicked out of the Liberal caucus despite the party's minority status.

"She's out," one MP said.

Ms. Parrish had already elicited more criticism from her Liberal colleagues yesterday for filming a gag piece for the comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes in which she stomped on a George W. Bush doll and then smiled broadly. At least one U.S. television network, ABC, had requested a copy of the tape.

In responding to her clip on the television show, the Prime Minister's communications director, Scott Reid, told reporters that "the Prime Minister definitely does not share Ms. Parrish's sense of humour."

"It's rotten timing," Sarnia Liberal MP Roger Gallaway said. "I think it's a pathetic spectacle, and I would hope that she would consider mending her ways."

But Liberal caucus chair Andy Savoy, speaking before Ms. Parrish's criticisms of Mr. Martin ran on newswires, had said she would not be kicked out of the caucus. He said the reason was not only because the Liberals have a minority in the Commons, but because her expulsion would only draw attention to her criticisms of the Bush administration.

"In kicking her out of caucus, we'd be drawing attention to the issue, in fact, and I don't think that's productive for Canada-U.S. relations," he said.

Mr. Bush has been invited by the Canadian government to address a joint session of the House of Commons and Senate during his visit to Ottawa, scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Mr. Bush has not indicated yet whether he will accept the invitation to address Parliament, said Melanie Gruer, a spokeswoman for Mr. Martin.

Many Liberals had insisted yesterday that MPs would be on their best behaviour, and that Mr. Bush's visit, which is aimed at helping to thaw Canada-U.S. relations, would not be spoiled by barbs or heckling.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said that even Liberals who disagree with Mr. Bush on such issues as missile defence will be polite, offering him "a very respectful and, I would hope, warm welcome.

"He is a visitor in our country. I don't know about you, but my mother brought me up to believe that when we had visitors we always treated our visitors in a polite, respectful way. And I would presume that my colleagues will treat President Bush in that way.

"I think people are making way too much of this."

The Liberals are anxious that there be no missteps during Mr. Bush's visit, however. They want Mr. Martin's government to be seen as more careful in cultivating the relationship than his predecessor, Jean Chrétien, who was accused of tolerating anti-Americanism that offended U.S. leaders.

While they do not expect Mr. Bush to win over Canadians, they hope to portray the two governments as working together on major international issues such as the Middle East, building bilateral co-operation on border trade and security, and addressing such trade disputes as the continuing U.S. ban on Canadian beef after a case of mad-cow disease sparked an embargo.

Opposition leaders, including Jack Layton of the NDP and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois, said they will show appropriate respect despite the fact they oppose some U.S. policies.

Mr. Layton said he wants to have a meeting with Mr. Bush to raise his opposition to the missile defence shield - although such an audience would be a rarity. "We believe that that's the way to go about it. I don't believe the House of Commons is a place for disrespect," he said. Ms. Parrish's joke film, stomping on a Bush doll, is "sad," Mr. Layton said.

"It takes away from the issues that we should be addressing when it comes to George Bush, which is his policies on the weaponization of space, the growing arms race, the trade policy disputes that we have, the Patriot Act and its impact on Canadian privacy. This trivializes all of that, and I think that's unfortunate."