NDP's Mulcair clarifies bin Laden comments

NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair blamed a post-election "fatigue" for his controversial comments questioning the existence of U.S. photos of Osama bin Laden's body.

Mulcair told host Mike Finnerty of CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Thursday that he had no reason to doubt photos exist when the U.S. president says so, but was questioning the decision not to release them.

The NDP's Quebec lieutenant landed in hot water Wednesday when he told CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon that he didn't believe photos exist of bin Laden following the al-Qaeda leader's killing by U.S. forces on Sunday in Pakistan.

"I don't think, from what I've heard, that those pictures exist and if they do, I'll leave that up to the American military," he told Solomon Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, Mulcair acknowledged that it was not "the best statement [he] could have made."

Mulcair said the context of the conversation had been lost, and that he was referring to whether a photo of bin Laden reaching for his gun exists or not.

"I take full responsibility for the meandering nature of that back and forth," Mulcair said on air Thursday morning.

"I'll put that on the account of a certain fatigue and our joy at our victory the other night," Mulcair added, in reference to his party's second-place showing in the election.

The NDP MP for Outremont said he referred to the photos in the exchange with Solomon that made international headlines on Wednesday, therefore he implicitly acknowledged them.

"I clearly reference the pictures themselves and say that if the Americans have them and they're holding them back, it's for reasons of human decency. So that couldn't be clearer," Mulcair said on Thursday.

The U.S. administration announced Wednesday it would not release the photos of the al-Qaeda leader after he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar distanced the party from Mulcair's comments on Wednesday, saying it does not doubt the U.S. government has photos.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office called the comments "odd."

Mulcair was also asked about allegations the new NDP MP for Berthier-Maskinongé, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, had bogus signatures on the nomination papers supporting her candidacy.

A Trois-Rivières resident, René Young, told media Wednesday that neither he nor his wife remember signing the document, and his wife's supposed signature is illegible.

Mulcair told CBC he had consulted party officials and other experts about the accusations, and confirmed that officials went door-to-door to obtain the signatures.

He said other residents in the area have not shed doubt on the nomination papers, and that Elections Canada had already verified the document.

"Once they've verified it, and they've said the person is a candidate and their name's on the ballot paper, that's the end of it," Mulcair said.

Mulcair added that Brosseau was elected by a large majority.

Brosseau, 27, won the riding northeast of Montreal by a 5,816-vote margin.