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Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi says comment was taken out of context

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

MPP Lou Rinaldi

MPP Lou Rinaldi

NORTHUMBERLAND -- Progressive Conservative members have misconstrued his remarks, says the Liberal MPP for the riding of Northumberland/Quinte about words characterized as a slur on Northern Ontario.

In an exclusive interview late Monday afternoon, MPP Lou Rinaldi said he will "not apologize" for his comments made last Thursday or Monday because the phrases he used have been misconstrued and taken out of context.

During the debate about Bill 152 last Thursday, which includes the creation of two new ridings in Northern Ontario, Rinaldi said the debate by two PC members moved into a criticism of the Liberal Party for not supporting Northern Ontario - far away from the contents of the bill.

At one point, Rinaldi said he suggested that MP Vic Fedeli sit down because he was "in no man's land."

This was not a slur about Ontario's North but about Fedeli getting way off topic, Rinaldi said.

The demand for an apology continued Monday, the local MPP said, when a question was put to the Deputy Premier Deb Matthews about "how could I make such a derogatory comment against Northern Ontario."

Because, Rinaldi said, this was "totally off base ..."I said it was untrue."

Rinaldi said he then suggested words about the matter "be taken outside" the Legislature where what is said is not protected as it is inside Queen's Park.

"I meant, let's go outside where the comments are public "¦ then I could take some (legal or related) action," he stressed.

"It was to make the words public - not for a fight," he stressed.

Because Rinaldi interrupted the Legislature Monday with his "outburst" about what the PCs were saying as untrue, he said he has apologized to Speaker Dave Levac in private.

Otherwise, however "there is nothing I need to apologise for."

The PCs have, however, issued a media release about Rinaldi's comments in which Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli states that they "confirm what the Liberal government thinks of us in the North"

"I do not represent 'no man's land'," Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano is states in the media release. "I represent the people of Sault Ste. Marie and as a proud Northerner I find these comments highly offensive and I know that the people of Northern Ontario share my outrage."

Late this afternoon after talking with Northumberland Today, Rinaldi made this statement: "I want to clarify the words I spoke in the Legislature on Thursday, Sept. 21. I was addressing my remarks to MPP Vic Fedeli and made the comment that he was in 'No Man's Land,' referring specifically to him being completely alone in his opinion about legislative changes to the Election Finances Act.

"This then led to MPP Sam Oosterhoff misconstruing my words, and certainly their intent. I was in no way making a geographic reference to any area, and I believe any thinking person would agree. The opposition then put out a press release, repeating Sam's attempt to frame my words in a manner that had nothing to do with their actual contextual reference. I'm hoping that Sam was merely participating in youthful exuberance in a misguided attempt to protect his caucus colleague. I certainly would not like to think this was a malicious and purposeful partisan attempt to score cheap political points. 

"As a long-time rural MPP we share many of the same challenges as our friends in Northern Ontario. I am more than aware and sensitive of how important our voice needs to be when we are not part of large urban centres. The citizens of Ontario are tired of game-playing and petty politics."