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Another day, another call for Helena Guergis to resign

Stephen Harper is supporting his minister of state for the status of women - for now.

"She apologized," said a senior Harper official when asked earlier today if there was any change to her situation.

And again in the House of Commons this afternoon during Question Period, Transport Minister John Baird, who has been handling her defence, repeated that she had apologized for her outburst last month at the Prince Edward Island airport. He said her apology should be accepted and MPs should get on with their business.

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As he has been for several Question Period sessions now, PEI Liberal MP Wayne Easter was up on his feet demanding the minister's resignation for her airport behaviour during which she characterized the island as a "hell hole."

"The facts are well established. How can the Prime Minister continue to condone the conduct of a senior minister, who, 1. insulted a province; 2. berated, belittled and bullied airport personnel and security staff?" he asked. "The list of Conservative insiders calling on the Prime Minister to fire this minister continues to grow daily."

Yesterday there were whispers that senior Conservatives want Ms. Guergis removed from cabinet. Her dramatic show at the airport is apparently not playing well among the Tim Hortons' constituency that is so important to the Harper brand.

Although Mr. Harper may be supporting her today, he has in the past patiently waited for the right opportunity to remove ministers who have not worked out in their portfolios - Rona Ambrose from Environment to Labour; Gordon O'Connor from Defence to Revenue to Chief Government Whip and Lisa Raitt from Natural Resources to Labour.

In addition to the questions about Ms. Guergis, the Liberals also focused on the controversy over the documents concerning the Afghan detainee transfers.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson released the details Saturday of the mandate for retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci's review of the documents pertaining to the detainees.

But that's not good enough for the Liberals. Toronto Centre MP Bob Rae, who led off Question Period today, accused the government of not making the Iacobucci mandate broad enough.

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Mr. Rae, who is standing in for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who is traveling, called for a public inquiry.

"What the Liberal Party is saying is quite clear," Mr. Rae said. "It is that the Parliament of Canada has the right and the duty to have those documents and the Canadian government does not have the power to hide those documents."

The government is refusing to give up the documents, citing national security. The opposition has argued it can't do its job properly without seeing them. The special all-party committee dealing with the Afghan detainee issue is expected to reconvene tomorrow.

Many Liberals, however, have grown tired of the constant questions in Question Period around the Afghan detainees.

Clearly, the NDP has. Leader Jack Layton asked about provisions in the budget around environmental issues, accusing the government of driving out young scientists involved in climate change research.

The Prime Minister threw it back on the NDP, arguing that there are many green elements to the budget that the NDP continues to reject by voting against the document.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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