I’m not sure Canada needs one more column on “Elbowgate.” How many different ways can we say “Stop acting like fools”? And, truth be told, as I watched events unfold my reaction was limited to mild irritation and disdain. The scuffle was just a distraction from the more troubling Liberal effort to neuter the opposition and undermine Parliament. But then I made the mistake of listening to the ensuing debate.
Before I go off here, let’s get through the disclaimers. I’m married to Catherine McKenna, the minister of the environment, who the replay video shows was also the first over the boards (to stop it) when Trudeau and Mulcair dropped their gloves. But, to borrow from the painfully narcissistic language of gender politics, I self-identify as a Tory.
Now, allow me to rant. What the Prime Minister did in the House was the sort of jack-assery that is typically limited to junior high hallways. If he had pulled that stunt behind the counter of McDonald’s, he’d have been handing in his plastic name tag 20 minutes later.
And Tom Mulcair’s childish “I can’t see you!” attempt to block the opposition whip would be pathetic behaviour from a nine-year-old. If that nine-year-old had also launched into the same red-faced screaming tantrum, he’d have been sent to his room and possibly to a therapist.
But neither of these dumb-ass moves were premeditated. Tempers flared. They acted out. We all do it. As Tony Clement put it so lyrically, we’re all “broken people,” sometimes we make mistakes.
What was premeditated, though, was the painfully insulting reaction from the opposition members. They spent five hours over the course of Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon standing up one after the other, recounting in tremulous voices how they had been traumatized by the fracas.
As Elizabeth May said, “What we saw was unacceptable, but let us keep it in perspective.” Here’s some of that perspective: According to Statistics Canada, a staggering 2,736,000 Canadians are victims of violence every year. That means, in the course of the five hours it took our members of Parliament to share their “impact statements,” 1,562 Canadians were genuinely assaulted, beaten, raped, mugged, or abused.
In the 15 minutes it took Deepak Obhrai to sufficiently express how “absolutely shocked” he was by the “assault,” elsewhere in Canada some 400 people were trying to protect themselves from real blows, were crying real tears and were wiping away real blood.
Tracey Ramsey told us how “shaken” she was by the events she had witnessed. Mark Warawa was in a “state of shock.” Imagine if these two were aware there are more than 75,000 child assaults every year. My God, as elected officials, if they did know they might even be able to help do something about it.
As Peter Van Loan stood up in the House and moved that the “physical molestation” should be referred to the standing committee on procedure and House affairs, I wonder if he was ashamed, for even a second, that he might be heard by one of the half-million women who were sexually assaulted in Canada last year?
Consider poor Alice Wong, who was so “overwhelmed and alarmed” at seeing the Prime Minister charge across the floor. Wait until she finds out some 760,000 people are victims of spousal abuse in Canada. I can only assume she will be instantly moved to become a tireless and lifelong champion to stop this violence.
And of course, there’s Niki Ashton, who found it all “deeply traumatic.” As traumatic as knowing that Manitoba, her home province, has the highest rate of violent victimization in Canada? And that her own riding contains some of the most troubled and violent communities in the country? Now, there would have been five hours well spent, if Parliament had debated what to do about the off-the-charts sexual assault rates among Indigenous Canadians.
Every single one of these MPs should be completely ashamed of themselves for attempting to equate Wednesday’s nonsense with the brutal and life-destroying assaults experienced by Canadians every bloody day. Every single one of these MPs should go back to their ridings, and take an hour to visit an emergency room, a family court, or a woman’s shelter, and there they should look the victims in the face and try to explain how badly they were traumatized by the Prime Minister. And, assuming they’re not sociopaths, and assuming they are unable to be that shameless, they should then make a donation to the local victim support agency and pray to God their own families never have to deal with real trauma. Then come back to Ottawa and stop being so pathetically sanctimonious, or the next time the Liberals try to sneak through another procedural loophole that undermines Parliament, no one is going to give a single goddamn.