Saskatchewan MP Tom Lukiwski apologized Today after a videotape of comments he made 17 years ago insulting homosexuals was made public by the provincial NDP. The New Democrats, meanwhile, are calling for him to be stripped of his caucus duties.
"I am truly, truly sorry," Lukiwski told reporters in Ottawa outside the House of Commons.
I'm ashamed for the comments. If I could take those comments back I would. . . . They do not reflect the type of person that I am."
The video also shows Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall speaking in an exaggerated eastern European accent and mocking then-NDP Leader Roy Romanow.
NDP Deputy Leader Pat Atkinson said the video, which appears to have been shot at the provincial Progressive Conservative headquarters on the night of a 1991 leader's debate, was found in the Opposition offices at the legislature when the NDP moved in after its defeat in last November's provincial election.
Lukiwski, then an official in the Progressive Conservative campaign, speaks directly to the camera at one point in response to a question from the camera operator.
"There's A's and there's B's. The A's are guys like me, the B's are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases," he said.
Atkinson called the comments "hateful."
"I think I can say that it was disturbing. His comments were rather disturbing. And it made me sick," she said.
Atkinson noted that Lukiwski was elected in Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre in 2004 to replace MP Larry Spencer, who had been kicked out of the then-Canadian Alliance caucus after making derogatory comments about gays in a newspaper interview.
She said Prime Minister Stephen Harper had no choice but to strip Lukiwski of his duties as parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and kick him out of caucus.
Atkinson said Lukiwski, who served as executive director of the Saskatchewan Party before being elected to the House of Commons, should not run again.
"I don't believe Mr. Lukiwski gets any slack on this," she told reporters at a press conference, noting he was over 40 at the time of the comments.
The video also shows Wall, then a young PC staffer, engaged in a mock interview with Kathy Young, now the Saskatchewan Party's executive director of communications.
Apparently speaking as a voter from Preeceville, a rural community which has a large Ukrainian population, he talks about liking then-Premier Grant Devine.
"Roy Romanow got his head up his ass. I don't even know how he walks upright with his head so far up his ass," he said in a gravelly, accented voice.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Wall said he would personally apologize to Romanow, who became premier after the NDP's landslide victory over Devine's Tories in that 1991 election, for his "bad language" and "disrespectful tone."
He said he didn't remember the evening but said he was doing an impression of a friend's accented uncle.
"It's not a bad impersonation of a people, it's a bad impersonation of one individual," he said.
However, he said he unequivocally apologizes if anyone was offended.
Wall said Lukiwski's comments were "unacceptable"
He said he would distance himself from Lukiwski if he still held those views but said he would wait to hear the MP's explanation.
"I think we hear people, certainly then, we hear people maybe tell a joke that shouldn't be told or maybe make an off-colour remark. And this is obviously beyond being off-colour, the remarks that are there. And have I on every occasion heard someone do that, have I challenged them . . . whether it was 26 or 42 as I am today? The answer would be no and I would expect that would probably be the same for most people. Should we be doing better on that count? Absolutely," said Wall.
The tape comes during a week where a major controversy has arisen over the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations' reinstatement as a senator of David Ahenakew, who made anti-Semitic remarks in 2002. Earlier this week, Wall had removed from the Sask. Party caucus web site an endorsement of him by blogger Kate McMillan after comments about inner-city residents were posted on her smalldeadanimals.com web site.
Atkinson said the NDP struggled with the question of what to do with the tape, after it was found with camera equipment in the offices about a month ago. But she said Lukiwski's comments were so troubling that it had to be released.
Atkinson said the timing of the release had nothing to do with the issues around Ahenakew and the blog.
The tape also shows the Sask. Party's Young joking about sending a letter bomb to union leader Barb Byers. The government has been embroiled in a fight with organized labour since taking office over a major overhaul of the province's labour laws.
Wall said Young's comments were not reflective of Young's and the government's views.
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