When tragedy strikes, should opposition leaders bite their tongues?

Andy Radia

There's an unwritten rule in politics that when a tragedy occurs, opposition parties withhold their judgement and/or criticisms of the government.

They do that out of respect to the victims' families and so to ensure that the immediate focus is on recovery and clean-up efforts.

Both the Liberals and New Democrats did just that two weeks ago during the floods in Alberta.

[ Related: Partisan politics taking a back seat to flooding at Calgary Stampede ]

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, however, has deviated from this tongue-biting convention.

On Saturday — just hours after the deadly train derailment and subsequent fires in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec — Mulcair said it was "another case where government cost cutting in the wrong area."

"We are seeing more and more petroleum products being transported by rail, and there are attendant dangers involved in that. And at the same time, the Conservative government is cutting transport safety in Canada, cutting back the budgets in that area," Mulcair said according to CTV News.

"When we have a discussion about these things in the coming months or years let’s remember this day. We are watching a magnificent little village being burned to the ground by toxic products that were being transported through it."

[ Related: Rail company in Quebec explosion says brakes may have been released ]

On Sunday evening, PMO Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall took to Twitter to voice his displeasure at the opposition leaders' comments.

Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae also weighed-in.

Journalists and pundits even got involved in the pile-on.

Were Mulcair's comments untimely and inappropriate?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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