In an odd and painfully awkward interview, Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant refused to answer questions about her invoking a dead soldier to peddle Easter hams.
As first reported by the CBC, Gallant sent out a fundraising email entitled "TERRORISTS IN OUR MIDSTS" that prominently features Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as "A Hero Forever in our Hearts."
Cirillo was murdered in 2014 at the National War Memorial as part of the attack on Parliament by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
The email links to a fundraising page where readers are offered an Easter ham if they donate to the Conservative party.
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose blamed the email on staff and said Gallant had apologized.
BuzzFeed Canada ran into Gallant on the third floor of the Centre Block of Parliament Tuesday afternoon and, well, here's what happened.
I asked her about the email. Gallant responded, "I'll give you a call back. BuzzFeed, right?"
I asked if she could say something now as I was standing right in front of her. Gallant then attempted to leave via an elevator but the elevators in Parliament are notoriously slow.
"Can you tell me what happened at all? Do you apologize for that? Do you stand by it?" I asked.
"When I have the answers, I'll give them to you," she said.
"Where would the answers come from if not... from you?" I tried again.
What followed was 27 seconds of uncomfortable silence as Gallant refused to respond but the elevator refused to arrive.
At one point she tried to call someone on her cell phone to get out of the interview, but Parliament is also famously bad for cell phone coverage so she couldn't get a signal.
There were a couple more unanswered rounds of questions. I asked if Gallant had anything to say to her constituents or to veterans who said they were offended by the email. She did not make eye contact or respond.
Ultimately, she gave up on the elevator and departed on foot instead. I walked with her until she went down a hallway off limits to reporters.
So did Cheryl Gallant write the email? Does she regret it? Did the elevator ever arrive? For now, it all remains a mystery.
Later in the day I also ran into Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose and asked her whether Gallant had actually apologized. Ambrose expressed that she could not answer the question because she had gum in her mouth, then walked away while ignoring further questions. (Seriously.)
Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Paul McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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