Thursday, May 05, 2005

May 5, 2005: Inky Mark wants 'racist' Reg Alcock to resign

Manitoba MP wants 'racist' minister to resign
Last Updated Thu, 05 May 2005 11:46:00 EDT
CBC News

OTTAWA - Conservative member of Parliament Inky Mark called for the resignation of cabinet minister Reg Alcock Thursday, calling him a racist for suggesting that Liberals wanting to entice defectors would have looked for someone "a little higher up the gene pool" than Mark.

INDEPTH: Election Speculation

Inky Mark, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River. (File Photo)
On Tuesday, Mark said a Liberal minister called him to offer an ambassadorship in return for giving up his seat in the House of Commons, thus making the Liberals' minority government a little more secure. He would not name the cabinet minister.

Alcock, who is Treasury Board president as well as the minister responsible for Manitoba, Mark's home province, denied that any such offer was made to Mark.

"Frankly, if I was going to recruit somebody, I'd go a little higher up the gene pool," Alcock said Wednesday.

FROM MAY 3, 2005: Liberal minister denies Tory claim
When reporters asked him for his response Wednesday, Mark dismissed Alcock's comment as a schoolyard taunt.

But the MP for Dauphin-Swan River had a change of heart overnight. He held a news conference Thursday morning, backed by more than a dozen other Conservatives, to call Alcock a racist.

"It demonstrates racial intolerance," Mark said of the "gene pool" comment. "It's about genetics. That's what the Second World War was about."

Mark was born in Hoysun, China, but left as a boy to move to Canada.

Asked to account for his change of attitude about Alcock's comment, Mark said: "Believe it or not, growing up in this country, I've been desensitized to this kind of thing."

One after another, the other Conservatives stepped up to the microphone to defend Mark and call for an end to what they called a series of racist remarks by Liberals in recent days.

FROM MAY 4, 2005: Klan comments land Liberal minister in firestorm
At the same news conference, Mark refused again to say which cabinet minister had offered him the ambassador's job, though such an offer would be a criminal matter if it could be proven.

The Prime Minister's Office has told some Parliament Hill reporters that rather than being enticed to leave the Conservatives, Mark himself has been calling Liberals asking which appointments might be available if he decided to vacate his seat.

When reporters pressed him on that issue on Thursday, Mark replied: "That's another story, OK? ... This story is about a statement made by a cabinet minister."

He then called the news conference to an end and left the room.

Every vote counts in fractured Parliament

The Conservatives have promised to defeat the Liberal government "at the earliest possible opportunity," thereby bringing about a general election a year after the last time Canadians went to the polls.

Stephen Harper's party can do that if all its 99 MPs join with the 54 elected members of the Bloc Québécois and one other MP on a confidence vote in the House of Commons.

The vote on the 2005 budget motion would be one confidence vote that could defeat Paul Martin's Liberals.

However, the Liberals have struck an alliance with the New Democrats to pass the budget, giving the temporary coalition a combined vote total of 151. If all three of the Independent MPs vote with the government as well, it will survive the vote of confidence.

The situation means every vote counts.

As well as alleging that Mark was offered an ambassadorship to leave his seat in the House of Commons, Conservative deputy leader Peter MacKay said "a number" of other MPs in the party have been promised Senate seats or other plum positions to jump ship.

The Liberals have denied that allegation as well.