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'Tangled up in semantic weeds,' Justin Trudeau offers honour-killing mea culpa

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on March 8, 2011.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Justin Trudeau has apologized for saying he was "uncomfortable" with the Harper government's description of so-called honour killings as "barbaric."

"Perhaps I got tangled in semantic weeds in my comments, particularly in view of the Conservatives' cynicism on these issues," Mr. Trudeau wrote in an email to The Globe. "I want to make clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society."

The move comes after a sustained attack by the Tories that started late Monday night on Twitter and continued non-stop Tuesday morning. Even some Liberals - including former war-room chief Warren Kinsella - suggested Mr. Trudeau retract and apologize.

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Around 10 a.m., the Liberal immigration critic did just that.

"I retract my comments and apologize if they've been interpreted by any one as dismissing or diminishing the serious and appalling nature of honour killings and other gender based violence," he wrote.

But he did add this little jab at the Harper Conservatives:

"My expectation (given their vehemence against me) now that the Conservatives take this issue more seriously than their record indicates, is that they will immediately bringing forward a comprehensive national strategy to combat violence against women as the House of Commons has been calling for since 2008," he said.

The controversy stems from remarks Mr. Trudeau made to Newstalk 1010 radio station. He was asked for his views on the updated citizenship study guide, which included the reference to honour killings. He told the reporter he was "uncomfortable" with that section's tone.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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