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Conservative MP Alice Wong accuses Liberal Adam Vaughan of intimidation

03 Nov 17
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A 69-year-old Conservative MP is accusing a Liberal MP of “elder abuse,” racism and sexism for what she calls intimidation through an incident aboard a parliamentary bus.

Conservative MP Alice Wong said Liberal MP Adam Vaughan stood {}, pointed and exhibited an “awful” mindset on Wednesday aboard a bus following Question Period in the House of Commons.

“When I got off the bus, I said, ‘This is a kind of senior abuse — elder abuse.’ It is verbal,” Ms. Wong, who symbolizes the Vancouver-area riding of Richmond Centre, said on Thursday.

“You are looking at three things at this time. One is racism: I am Asian. One is ageism: I am a senior. And another way is sexism: I am a woman.”

Speaking before Ms. Wong spoke to reporters, Mr. Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Families, said he disputes that the description of their interaction, but said it doesn’t matter how he feels about it. “The problem is how she felt. She believes she was intimidated,” he said. His office didn’t respond to some follow-up request made after Ms. Wong’s accusations.

“No member of Parliament should ever feel this way, and I regret that the exchange, however civil I thought it was, left her feeling like that,” Mr. Vaughan said on Thursday, out of a committee meeting both he and Ms. Wong were attending. He cried in the Commons on Thursday night, but Ms. Wong wasn’t present to hear it, and will return on Monday.

The incident happened as MPs were aboard a bus outside Parliament Hill. Ms. Wong said she had been seated in the front of the bus when Mr. Vaughan obtained on. She said he was angry with a few remarks she had made during Question Period about the Liberal government’s involvement in the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Ms. Wong, who has concerns concerning the bank, said she mentally shouted out that “Canada is our home” throughout the event, and Mr. Vaughan approached her on the bus about it.

“He is a tall man and he is pointing at me … commenting, ‘Why are you against global investment?'” Ms. Wong said. “Intimidating me in that bus, I do not think that is the appropriate way, behavior, as a member of Parliament.”

Ms. Wong increased the bus episode in the Commons on Thursday as a point of order, calling it a “grave and disturbing matter,” and requested Speaker Geoff Regan to make a ruling over parliamentary privilege.

She said she hasn’t decided on what steps to take next, but will now ask a young staff member to accompany her aboard the bus.

Mr. Vaughan, however, described the bus incident differently.

He said he simply ceased to inform Ms. Wong about the “significant opportunities” the infrastructure bank could make architectural, engineering and infrastructure companies in his Toronto riding, before continuing to the rear of the bus and taking his seat. He added that the bus filled with largely Conservative MPs told him that issues to focus on.

When asked if he raised his voice, Mr. Vaughan said: “I do not think I did. I didn’t.

“But the matter isn’t what I believed I did or what I thought I did. The problem is how she felt. She believes she was intimidated. That is not a position anyone in the House of Commons should find themselves in,” he said.

Ms. Wong’s account of this episode is backed up by Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs, who had been sitting behind her on the bus. Ms. Stubbs told The Globe and Mail which Mr. Vaughan was patronizing and rude.

“He was berating her. His voice was loud, he was pointing down at her, waving his hands,” Ms. Stubbs said. “I just can not even think that incredible hypocrisy coming from Liberals who are, like, apparently the largest and greatest feminists … and here is this guy berating this older lady on a subject she knows about.”

Liberal MP Mary Ng, who was seated beside Ms. Wong, said she could not hear exactly what was said. “Adam spoke a couple of words to Alice, and he then moved into the back of the bus. So, that is what happened,” Ms. Ng said.

When asked if she knew why Ms. Wong might have felt intimidated, Ms. Ng said, “I do not wish to translate another colleague.”

Ms. Wong said the episode reminded her of an event that occurred when she came to Canada from Hong Kong 38 decades back. She had been driving in Vancouver when she was stopped by police for speeding and informed by a police officer to “speak to your big brother{}”

“Right now, the same thing shouldn’t happen. I believe women, particularly women of multicultural background should stand up. And there is no way we should endure it.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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