The machinations of the daily grind in Canada's House of Commons generally don't make international news. That changed somewhat last week. Social media lit up, too. It seems Green Party leader Elizabeth May is easily offended.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel made an impassioned plea for something to be done about the rising unemployment crisis in her province, now approaching 10 per cent. "Why does this government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge?" she asked.
May stood up to say that Rempel used a word that is "distinctly unparliamentary, and I think she may want to withdraw it. The word was F-A-R-T," said May.
Rempel refused to withdraw it. "Is my colleague actually serious? I just gave an impassioned speech about Alberta jobs, and that's what the leader of a political party has to say? No, I don't withdraw it."
Author Heather Gordon had her own take on the kerfuffle.
"Perhaps she (May) had a childhood experience, she might want to unburden herself of," Gordon wrote me in an email. She has just published a children's book, Does the Queen Fart?.
"I loved the video of Elizabeth May. An amusing overreaction to the mention of a normal bodily function. This is precisely why I wrote the book; to remind kids that while we should practice restraint when and where we fart, we should remember that our bodies are magical works of art, and farting is a natural healthy part of our digestive system. Someone should ask Elizabeth May why such a natural and healthy body function should be the source of such shame and revulsion. She couldn't bring herself to even say the word aloud!"
Plenty of comedies on television and film use flatulence to elicit laughs. Everyone has personal experience with it. Kids love joking about it. Every parent has broached this subject with their kids. It's unavoidable.
"We are in the process of toilet training two toddlers and I realized how the language we use directly helps or hinders success."
But the Queen?
"Why not?" says Gordon. "We all love a satisfying emission. The fart is a great leveler too. It is very democratic in its victims. The posher they come, the harder they fall. And the Queen must be a prolific emitter, all that sauerkraut, bratwurst and gin."
In politics, opportunity arises from some strange circumstances. Elizabeth May has put herself in the Hall of Fame of quotable quotes from inside the Houses of Parliament. And now, MP Rempel might just make some money on it. Her staff sent out a fundraising email Rempel's team sent out a fundraising email on the subject.
Elizabeth May has put herself in the Hall of Fame of quotable quotes.
"I'm sure you've seen the news about our MP, Michelle Rempel, and her use of an 'F' word in Parliament this week," the email begins, quoting her speech about the Alberta job crisis.
"She spoke for nearly 10 minutes about our family, friends and neighbours who are out of work. And what was Elizabeth May's response? She was unsettled by Michelle's use of the word F-A-R-T. She wasn't worried about the job situation in Alberta, she was worried about the use of a word."
One of the greatest environmental dangers facing the world today is bovine flatulence. With over one billion cows on earth, the huge methane emissions they produce continue to contribute to global warming. Elizabeth May's party is committed to fighting for the environment, so sooner or later she may have to confront this subject again. In 2010, the United Nations proposed a "global levy on livestock methane emissions," or as the press dubbed it, "the fart tax."
It didn't pass. Over to you Elizabeth. May, I mean.
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