A top Conservative accused Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould of "spewing lies" in the House of Commons Wednesday.
While there's nothing particularly remarkable about members of Parliament clashing during debate, it is considered unparliamentary to accuse a colleague of lying. It rarely occurs.
The moment happened just before a vote on a time allocation motion from the government on Bill C-14, the physician-assisted dying legislation.
The Liberal majority effectively shut down debate on the bill after approximately two-and-a-half days of discussion. The controversial move is intended to help the legislation become law quicker, in time for the Supreme Court of Canada’s June 6 deadline.
The Liberal strategy angered Conservatives, New Democrats, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, and Bloc Quebecois members who wanted to express their views on the very sensitive topic. Many suggested by limiting debate on a matter of “life and death” and of deep moral consequence was unprecedented.
Wilson-Raybould, however, noted in the House that Liberals had previously offered to extend the sitting hours to accommodate those who wanted to speak, but opposition parties took a pass.
‘We have heard from every member in the House who wanted to speak’
The justice minister said 84 MPs spoke about the bill “during 21 hours of debate.” She also noted the legislation will face further scrutiny at the committee stage and during third reading.
“Mr. Speaker, we have heard from every member in the House who wanted to speak,” she said.
That remark did not sit well with Raitt.
“I do believe that the honourable minister should actually check herself when she said that everyone who wanted to have a chance to speak to this issue has had a chance to speak because that is absolutely incorrect,” Raitt said, adding that the minister should apologize.
“And if she’s going to base her arguments by spewing lies in this House of Commons then she should absolutely be very careful in ensuring she has the facts before she makes assertions which are untrue.”
“If she’s going to base her arguments by spewing lies in this House of Commons then she should absolutely be very careful.”
— Lisa Raitt
The use of the L-word — “lies” — sparked a point of order from Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc, who condemned Raitt’s attack on “an honourable member.”
“I think if somebody should apologize it is her, for such an untrue statement,” he said.
Assistant deputy Speaker Anthony Rota agreed it was “inappropriate language” to accuse a member of lying.
Raitt, who is rumoured to be mulling a run for the Conservative Party leadership, immediately apologized for her choice of words.
“But as you can see, it is an emotional topic,” she said. “And that’s exactly why they should not be shutting down this debate whatsoever.”
Rookie Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette later joined those across the aisle in voting against the time allocation motion, sparking applause. A number of MPs took to Twitter to laud Ouellette as courageous.
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