Mayor Joe Fontana in council chambers at City Hall in London on Tuesday Oct.30, 2012.
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER/The London Free Press/QMI AGENCY
Fontana -- currently the mayor of London, ON, and formerly a Liberal MP -- had invoked the poppy in brushing aside political calls to step aside amid questions about government cheques used to pay for the 2005 wedding reception of his son while he was a Liberal cabinet minister.
Pointing to the poppy on his lapel, he said "due process" is a Canadian cornerstone.
That move triggered a backlash by the Conservatives in the House of Commons Tuesday, in an exchange between Tory backbench MP Roxanne James and Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.
Here's what was said.
James: Mr. Speaker, yesterday former senior Liberal cabinet minister Joe Fontana was asked whether he would resign during the RCMP investigation of his activities as a senior Liberal cabinet minister. Mr. Fontana's response was to point to the poppy on his lapel and hide behind the sacrifices of our courageous war veterans as his reason not to resign. Veterans from London (Ont.) are condemning the comments from the former senior Liberal cabinet minister.
Will the Minister of Veterans Affairs explain how our government supports the poppy campaign as a sign of our respect toward our veterans?
Blaney: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that our government condemns the comment by the former senior Liberal cabinet minister in the strongest terms possible. This is totally unacceptable. Hiding behind our courageous veterans to avoid one's own potential legal problems is reprehensible. It does not have a place in our country.
I hope that all members of the House, including the members opposite, will join us in condemning these inappropriate comments that should not be related to our great veterans who gave their lives for our country.