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The Globe and Mail

PM lets Cheryl Gallant walk plank for ‘incomprehensible’ maritime musing

Stephen Harper was clearly not happy with remarks made by one of his Ontario MPs – and he made that clear in a television interview in the province she offended.

Speaking to Newfoundland journalist Fred Hutton on NTV Friday, the Prime Minister called Cheryl Gallant's suggestion that Atlantic Canadians are too reliant on the Coast Guard to rescue them as "completely unacceptable and quite frankly incomprehensible."

The Prime Minister's interview took place a day after Ms. Gallant, the MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, apologized in the House of Commons for her comments. She had suggested that Newfoundlanders who make their living from the sea should be more responsible for their safety and not expect to be rescued automatically.

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Her remarks, delivered in St. John's, created a firestorm and spurred immediate criticism from fellow Conservatives.

In his television interview, the Prime Minister noted that Ms. Gallant apologized and "did so promptly, I thought." He went on to reassure Newfoundlanders that his government is committed to maritime safety.

The Tories were shut out of the province in the last election after Danny Williams ran a campaign against them, but they are hoping to regain some seats in the next campaign. Mr. Harper, who had his differences with Mr. Williams, praised the former premier as a "historic figure in the province."

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