The Conservative chair of the Senate transport committee yesterday invoked Chuck Berry and the Minnesota Vikings in ridiculing complaints over a turn of phrase he used in a speech at a public rally. Liberals described the language as too violent.
“Ridiculous,” said Senator David Tkachuk (Sask.): “I’m not going to apologize for a figure of speech. Everybody knows exactly what I meant.”
Tkachuk on February 19 spoke to a Parliament Hill rally of United We Roll protestors, a convoy of truckers, farmers and contractors that staged two days of demonstrations outside the Commons chamber. Protestors opposed Bill C-69 An Act To Enact The Impact Assessment Act that rewrites oil and gas permit regulations, and the 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act mandating a national carbon tax.
Senator Tkachuk in a YouTube excerpt of his speech stated: “I know you’ve rolled all the way here, and I’m going to ask you one more thing. I want you to roll over ever Liberal left in the country, because when they’re gone, these bills are gone. Thank you very much. The very best of luck.”
Critics yesterday demanded Tkachuk apologize. “I’m a Liberal,” said Senator Dennis Dawson (Que.). “I have to be careful when I cross the street because they are around the Hill, and you encouraged them to roll over me.”
Senator Terry Mercer (N.S.), Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberal caucus, called the phrase unparliamentary. “I’m concerned some would interpret these remarks as advocating physical violence against the supporters of a particular party, including parliamentarians,” said Mercer.
“I was using a figure of speech playing on the United We Roll slogan, and referring to defeating every single Liberal in the next election which would kill the bill,” replied Senator Tkachuk. “Every trucker understood exactly what I said, but the Liberals seem to have a problem.”
“I’m sure when Chuck Berry said ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ he was not talking about rolling over the corpse of Beethoven,” said Tkachuk. “I’m sure when the Minnesota Vikings call their linemen the ‘Purple People Eaters’ they didn’t exactly mean that they were eating purple people. When the Orange Crush of the Denver Broncos were called the ‘Orange Crush’ no one believes they were really crushing oranges.”
Senator Frances Lankin (Independent-Ont.) said she considered the remark inappropriate “in these days of hate crimes and vehicular violence”: “You could apologize that people are taking it that way and make it clear we stand united in abhorring violence,” said Lankin.
Replied Senator Tkachuk: “If any feelings were hurt I hope you find a safe place, but I’ll tell you I want the same apology from all the rest of you the next time you call Conservatives racist, the next time you call us bigots and say we associate with those people, because the Liberal Party does it all the time.”