While some Canadians may find U.S. presidential Republican front-runner Donald Trump's politics and demeanor distasteful and unbecoming for the office he seeks to hold, who would have thought that our very own prime minister would actually display physical aggression towards another member of Parliament on the floor of the House of Commons.
There is no question that I, along with many Canadians, are disgusted by Trump and his politics when he tried to inflame his supporters to act violently against his critics, but at least he managed to exercise enough self control to not act out his dark thoughts.
Trump hasn't sworn at his opponents to tell them to get the "**** out of his way" or physically manhandle a fellow colleague and, in the process, hit another colleague by elbowing her right in the chest with enough force that she grimaced in pain and had to leave the chamber, thereby missing an important vote. To have Trudeau caught on camera outright displaying his aggression in this way for the world to see is something else.
Even in the darkest days of the Conservative government Harper did not behave the way Trudeau did on May 18.
The pundits are right to throw overboard the so-called sunny ways, cooperative and democratic parliament Trudeau has been espousing. Even in the darkest days of the Conservative government Harper did not behave the way Trudeau did on May 18. Not only did Trudeau behave exactly the opposite to what he promised Canadians, his behaviour is unprecedented in Canadian's parliamentary history.
How do you explain such an incredulous act from any elected official, much less the Prime Minister himself? Did he not know the rules of the House having sat as an MP for eight years? Did he really think it was OK to manhandle another MP in the chamber? Or did he really think that he was the king of the castle and he could do anything he wanted to?
The Liberal whip was already seated and the Speaker could proceed with the vote whether the MPs were in their seats or not. And even it was slightly delayed, as cited in the Globe and Mail's editorial, it's only a 30-second delay. Why is it so annoying to the prime minister that he lost his cool, ran to the Opposition side, scolded the MPs to "get the fuck out of the way," elbowed a female MP on his way and grabbed the Conservative whip?
After he was called out about the incident, Trudeau made the following apology in the House:
"Mr. speaker, as we were gathered here for a vote, after the time had counted down, I observed our whip walking down the aisle to proceed with the vote. I had noticed that the official opposition whip seemed to be impeded in his progress down the hall. I felt that this lacked in respect for Parliament and indeed for the function that the official opposition whip is endeavouring to deliver on behalf of all of us.
Therefore, I walked over to encourage the member to come through, and indeed, offered my arm to help him come through the gaggle of MPs standing there impeding his progress down the aisle, and impeding our ability to move forward with this important vote. In so doing, I admit that I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm, including someone behind me whom I did not see. I certainly did not intend to offend or impact on anyone. I was simply concerned that, unfortunately, the decorum of this place has been impeded by this kind of prevention of the work that the whips are doing.
If anyone feels that they were impacted by my actions, I completely apologize. It was not my intention to hurt anyone. It is my intention to get this vote done."
(Emphasis the blogger's.)
Right after Trudeau's remark, the Speaker of the House gave a rather different observation on what had happened:
"Members ought to know, first of all, that if one whip walks down before the other and takes his or her seat, and that is either whip, the Speaker then reads the question and the voting process begins. Nothing else is required. That is what happens. That has happened before."
It is not appropriate to manhandle other members. And I think the prime minister has apologized for that, I believe."
When Trudeau was called out for his misconduct, Trudeau in his apology was already trying to reframe what he did and shift the blame onto the opposition to justify his completely inappropriate actions. Kudos to Speaker Geoff Regan for putting on the public record what the rules of the House are and confirming for Canadians the vote was not impeded in any way by anyone.
Trudeau's apology is illustrative of the behaviour of a child being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, then arguing it wasn't his fault because someone else put the jar there in the first place. His so-called apology was not so much about an acknowledgement of a wrongdoing, it was more about trying to put a spin on his indefensible actions.
If the prime minister could act like that on the floor of the House of Commons in front of the media and the entire country, I hesitate to think how Trudeau would behave behind closed doors when things are not easy going, or when he loses his patience and temper for whatever reason.
Justin Trudeau's victory in the last federal election was historic with its promise of real change and sunny ways. And now, half a year after forming government, he has broken many promises. There were no emission targets or a renewed environmental process for projects like Kinder Morgan, and we are now selling military vehicles to Saudi Arabia (not because Harper signed off on the export permits, but because Trudeau's government did).
Things are sure not sunny as Trudeau portrays. Selfies aside, one has to be aware of Lord Acton's dictum, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
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