News / Winnipeg

MP laughed at for bus driver past while offering condolences for slain Winnipeg operator

Before he was a cabinet Minister, Amarjeet Sohi was an Edmonton City Councillor. Before that, he drove city buses. Some of his MP peers found that funny.

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons Tuesday September 20, 2016 in Ottawa.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons Tuesday September 20, 2016 in Ottawa.

After a city bus driver was fatally stabbed in Winnipeg Tuesday, others in the profession in the city and around the country expressed condolences in solidarity.

Among those empathetic issuances of thoughts and prayers was a heartfelt statement from federal cabinet Minister Amarjeet Sohi in the House of Commons.

Although he now holds the respected title of Minister of Infrastructure, the Liberal MP for Edmonton Mill Woods previously drove buses for Edmonton Transit.

“Mr. Speaker, as a former bus driver,” Sohi began. But before he was finished speaking, laughter erupted from across the floor.

Sohi continued, “I want to convey our thoughts and prayers for the Winnipeg Transit bus operator who was stabbed last night while serving his community and on duty.”

As he spoke, indiscernible chatter and laughter from the Conservative benches opposite Sohi and his Liberal colleagues continued.

A point of order was raised on the floor to strike the laughter from the record, but the Conservative House leader refused.

Later, Sohi said the treatment made him feel that his work “was unappreciated.”

“We all come from different backgrounds, and my background is what I’m proud of,” he said. “I’m proud that work I did as a bus driver I’m pretty sure benefited thousands of Edmontonians in gaining access to employment, to gain access to education, and opportunities.”  

As a former driver, Sohi told reporters he’s seen “violence happening on transit facilities,” but he also saw a lot more while serving his community.

He said he’s “proud” to have transported moms and their children to daycare, driven “students to school,” and helped “working folks” get to their jobs.

“And I’m using the same experience as a Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to build better and effective transit system in our country,” he said.

He called the laughter directed at his experience “a very unfortunate expression” by the opposition, but one that won’t stop him “from focusing on… delivering on behalf of Canadians.”

“Whether they apologize or not, that’s up to them, but we are focussed on my work and we are here to focus on delivering the commitments that we made to Canadians,” he said.

With Files from Ryan Tumilty, Metro Ottawa

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