PM's account of family meetings assailed
"We never entered into discussions," father of slain RCMP constable says
By DANIEL LEBLANC
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 Page A11
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Paul Martin was accused yesterday of misleading Parliament after saying he had "long discussions" with the families of the four RCMP officers who died at the hands of James Roszko near Mayerthorpe, Alta., this year.
The families are calling for tougher sentences for drug-related offences and a new national drug strategy.
Two days ago, Mr. Martin told the House of Commons that he had already had a lengthy meeting with the families of the victims.
"I was in Alberta for the commemoration and memorials in honour of the four Mounties who lost their lives. It was certainly one of the most emotional experiences I have ever gone through and I am sure for those who watched it, it was exactly the same thing.
"I met the families and had long discussions with them," Mr. Martin said.
But a spokesman for one of the families of the four slain officers, Rev. Don Schiemann, said there was only a brief meeting at the ceremony.
"The Prime Minister was very kind with us, he offered his condolences and gave us the flag that flew at half-mast on the Peace Tower, but we never entered into discussions about the issues," said Mr. Schiemann, whose son died in the tragedy.
Yesterday, the Conservative Party took the matter to Question Period, calling on Mr. Martin to apologize.
"I wonder why the Prime Minister would mislead the families and mislead the House in this fashion?" Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said.
Conservative MP Rona Ambrose called for government action on the families' demands.
"The families were very hurt by the Prime Minister's words. Will the Prime Minister apologize to the families?" she asked.
In the House, Mr. Martin promised to meet the families once again at the earliest opportunity, and said he was ready to apologize for any miscommunications.
The families were in Ottawa on Monday, but they did not meet with the Prime Minister.
"I would be more than happy to sit down with any member of any one of the four families who would like to discuss this with me.
"If I had known that they were here and that they wanted to meet with me [two days ago], I would have been delighted to do so," Mr. Martin said.
Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said she has met with Mr. Schiemann and said she is working on the file with Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.
© Globe and Mail 2005
Globe and Mail