Embattled MP Kevin Vuong has apologized to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party members and “the entire Indo-Canadian community” in an email statement that also says he was confident he would be vindicated.
Vuong’s statement came after former Liberal MP Sheila Malcolmson slammed him on Twitter over his handling of a controversial memo from Liberal staffer Robert Clark, who helped direct Nuong’s unsuccessful 2015 campaign. Clark was asked to leave after Trudeau questioned the validity of the memo.
Malcolmson, a party stalwart and the former deputy party leader, was critical of the “naive approach” taken by Vuong. “We are dealing with a human rights issue,” she tweeted. “At the very least, the leader should have demanded an explanation.”
Vuong was one of Trudeau’s first cabinet picks. He was sworn in the same day as cabinet minister David Lametti, who arrived as Canada’s first francophone minister.
Malcolmson tweeted that her “heart goes out to Kevin Vuong and his family for their courage to confront this issue head on.”
He issued an apology Tuesday for his handling of the memo. In the emailed statement, Vuong says he’s disappointed it became public and apologizes for the “hurt it may have caused” the party, Trudeau and the party’s supporters.
Vuong did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.
Malcolmson’s tweet urging the Liberal Party to “call out anti-Canadian tactics” follows the downfall of Clark, who quit after Trudeau’s spokesperson announced the memo’s authenticity in a statement. Clark, who sent the memo to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, had apologized in private. It addressed any concerns he had that Canada would not be able to protect its citizens from certain immigrants and visitors, according to a source close to Clark.
The memo had said that New Zealand immigrants were tougher than other immigrants to deal with, were no better at learning the language than native-born Canadians and saw less opportunity in Canada.
Clark “didn’t want to see this information in the public arena, especially not in Trudeau’s statement,” the source said. “I didn’t see any positives for Trudeau and the Liberals.”
Malcolmson, however, responded that she “fully believes that the memo is completely fabricated.”
The story has dominated the political world since Trudeau’s statement Friday, under the leadership of the Liberal Party. The memo, Malcolmson said, “is not an issue to Liberals. It’s a disgrace. Kevin should step down,” Malcolmson tweeted.
As of mid-afternoon, Clark’s LinkedIn profile still carried the headline: “Success story, immigrant, B.C., Rotman Fellow, multiculturalism defender, Canadian citizen.” But Clark had moved quickly, deleting the title.
“He got it off his profile,” the source said, without explaining why. Clark told an associate in an email that he was retiring from politics.
Malcolmson said the incident has highlighted a very difficult and urgent topic for Trudeau and his caucus. “This is a very important issue for the country and needs immediate leadership,” she said.
“We need to have (a Conservative Party of Canada) platform on the 2019 election where party leaders commit to policies about how the Conservative Party would handle this issue. Liberal immigration policies will continue to be scrutinized like never before.”