May 6, 2005: Alcock apologizes to Inky Mark for 'gene-pool' slur
Alcock apologizes for 'gene pool' slur
Last Updated Fri, 06 May 2005 12:40:20 EDT
OTTAWA - Treasury Board President Reg Alcock has apologized to a Conservative MP who accused him of racism for saying the Liberals would look "a little higher up the gene pool" if they wanted to recruit a new ambassador from opposition ranks.
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Treasury Board President Reg Alcock.
Alcock denied his comment was racist, however, and rejected Inky Mark's call for his resignation.
"I am writing to apologize for the 'gene pool' comment," wrote Alcock in the three-sentence letter he sent Thursday to Mark, an MP from Manitoba who was born in China.
"I was offended by your public slurs of myself during the preceding two days and reacted in an aside during a conversation on the issue. Nonetheless, two wrongs don't make a right and I want you to know that I regret the comment and apologize for it."
FROM MAY 5, 2005: Manitoba MP wants 'racist' minister to resign
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 the minister responsible for Manitoba as well as Treasury Board president, 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 told a Canadian Press reporter during a taped interview 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.
Inky Mark, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River. (File photo)
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."
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."