Scott Gilmore on our MPs' most shameful behaviour

Scott Gilmore on our MPs’ most shameful behaviour

While MPs shared their ‘impact statements’ over ‘Elbowgate’ 1,562 Canadians were genuinely assaulted, raped or abused

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, face towards the camera left of centre of the frame, is shown near Opposition whip Gordon Brown in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday May 18, 2016. Footage from the Commons television feed shows Trudeau wading into a clutch of MPs, mostly New Democrats, and pulling Opposition whip Gordon Brown through the crowd in order to get a vote started. (CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, face towards the camera left of centre of the frame, is shown near Opposition whip Gordon Brown in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday May 18, 2016. (CP)

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.


Scott Gilmore on our MPs’ most shameful behaviour

  1. Kudos to Referee Kerry Fraser who has accurately assessed the penalties following the donnybrook in our hallowed House of Commons.
    Incidentally, it should be stated that Kerry Fraser is the only man in Canada with better hair than PM Justin Trudeau.

    • Kerry Fraser fined Scott’s wife, Ms McKenna for leaving her seat as she started a empting of the Libs out their seats.

  2. Yep. Opposition members could have spent some time on how totally unprofessional and even downright juvenile the PM acted. They could even have asked the PM if he intended to seek treatment for his apparent anger management problem. However, they just had to go ridiculously over the top and in the process make themselves less than irrelevant – CPC and NDP members alike.

    • They should have just accepted the apology and shut up. They know there was nothing to the whole thing and in some ways they caused it.
      If less time was spent on petty bickering they might actually realize the less they do in Ottawa the better.The infighting and juvenile behavior seem to be their reason for existence now and the press keep feeding them.

      • I disagree. There is something to this, though not what the opposition members made it out to be. Here is a PM who promised to bring decorum and gravitas to the HoC, and indeed promised to do things differently (presumably for the better?), yet was acting in the polar opposite of what he promised. It would be only reasonable for the opposition to get their digs in and highlight the incongruity between what was promised and what transpired. However, like I said, the opposition MPs went ridiculously over the top and lost any credibility.

        I also disagree with the notion that the opposition MPs in some ways caused it. Nobody forced the PM to walk over and do what he did. He’s a grown man and should be in control of himself. That some opposition MPs were acting like asses is undeniable, but it’s the Speaker’s job to deal with them, not the PM’s, and certainly not in the manner that the PM chose.

        It’s amazing, but pretty much everyone comes out looking like a effing idiot in one way or another.

    • Canadians were over the top when they elected this brainless doofus to do an adult’s job

      • I disagree. Just because you didn’t get your way does not mean that we were wrong. I agree, in part, that he should not have crossed the floor. But this is what pisses me off. Calling him a child and undermining him as an adult is f&*(*ing childish. You sit behind you keyboard and spew out comments that you wouldn’t dare say face to face and that makes you a childish coward. So before you make your next comment, realise that this “doofus’ accomplished more in his 44 years than you did. So please, go sit in the corner.

  3. Bravo Scott.
    There really needs to be some perspective these days!

    And five wasted hour!!!??? Please let’s get on with the business of running the country.

    • Found a typo in your post. Should have read: “Please let’s get on with the business of RUINING the country.”

  4. To those protecting Trudeau try elbowing a woman in the breast at your workplace and see how that works out for you

    • Sure, if he meant to do it. He didn’t, it was obvious, he apologized immediately, that was the most non-issue part of the story.

      Point taken that it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t go over there, but it also wouldn’t have happened if the NDP hadn’t conspired to prevent the whip from going about his business. And if they conspired with the whip, that doesn’t change anything.

      • Of course 2Jenn, your points are all valid. Equally valid, if not moreso, (and I am sure this point has been made redundant by now in previous comments) is that it is the Speaker’s role to control the events of the House and to keep things moving, not the Prime Minister’s.

        The PM’s disregard of this illustrates, at least optically, a person who will comply with the rules, so long as the rules suit his particular agenda. Could it be that Mr PM is finding that conducting business in the House is a more cumbersome process than he has the temperance for? And being told “no, you can’t” is frustrating for him, since, perhaps, it’s not something he is accustomed to hearing?

  5. This whole thing reminds me of a school yard scuffle in more ways than one. Not just because the antics were of grade school level, but because of the huge deal that has been made of such a minor occurrence.

    I can’t help but be reminded of a case where two children have gotten into a minor fight. They have apologized and would like to see the matter closed, but the adults persist in making it a bigger and bigger issue.

    Mr. Trudeau has apologized. Ms. Brosseau has said she was hurt and briefly shaken, but has accepted the apology. Both have been subjected to outrage and shaming in both traditional and social media as well as by telephone and email to their offices.

    Could we not just move on and get over it?

  6. The mind set of the Liberal MPs is some thing I do not understand. How they could clap and basically encourage the PM to such a bullying action is beyond my belief. I guess if He told them to jump off a cliff they would all do it with glee.All Parties should be there to do the best for Canada.

  7. It’s hard not to feel a bit of Schadenfreude, however. Trudeau calls himself a feminist and Liberals are big supporters of gender issues (“No means no”). So it’s nice to see Mr. Sunny Ways held to a zero tolerance policy–it’s something he would likely support himself if he weren’t the subject of it.

    I’m inclined to be pleased that this happened. I think we need more debate about physician assisted dying (or what I call, allowing-the-state-to-kill-us). Having Motion 6 withdrawn because of the all the drama suits me just fine. The fact that I’m a bit of a laugh out of it–bonus!

    • Zero tolerance only applies if the act was intentional. Try again.

      • Howas “the act” not intentional? The minute Trudeau got out of his seat and with anger strode toward the con whip, grabbed his arm and told the NDP MP’s to get the fuck out of the way, it was obvious that his behavior was with intention. Do you realize that had Trudeau been drunk or high on drugs, it would have been no excuse? He let his anger and frustration propel him out of his chair and into the the crowd. Why didn’t he let his speaker do his job? It isn’t Trudeau’s job to get the Whips to their seats. His behavior was that of a physical bully. He didn’t not try to injure anyone. Infact he gave no thought to the possibility that someone might be injured. All he cared was that they got the fuck out of his way. How is that not an intentional act?

  8. Here’s the thing Scott:

    Without proper context, this column is merely cherry-picking:

    1) why not mention what he said on his way to the minister he manhandled? you supply many other quotes, but not the most explosive one? How’s that?

    2) why not mention that he uttered an expletive a couple of years ago in the house as well?

    3) why not mention his sticking his tongue out in the HOC and other childish behaviour two weeks ago?

    If you had, this column wouldn’t sound so much that things were blown out of proportion; rather, if taking the above into context, we’d be seeing a profile of man who has anger management issues and utterly impetuous behaviour.

    • All very good points Elizabeth, I think Canadian media is giving our PM a pretty easy ride on this one and that I find very troubling. They are trying to reduce it down to the elbow and not the motivation behind it or the previous conduct leading up to it.

    • Agree completely with your comments.

    • Yours is the best comment IMO in this forum on this subject. This is merely the latest in a chain of events that establishes the PM’s MO. The point is not that there worse things going on in the world. It is that we have an immature person as the leader of this country, and the best his supporters can do is to say “hopefully he’ll learn from this” So… Canada is stuck with a PM on training wheels

  9. Thank you Scott Gilmore for recognizing what is actually the underlying issue of this pathetic display of childish buffoonery by our elected ‘leaders’. That these MP’s can have the ignorance to claim they have suffered a ‘trauma’ after such an embarrassing incident clearly demonstrates how completely out of touch they are with the realities within our own nation. They ALL should have apologized for their abominable behaviour, not just the PM. That this kind of nonsense occurred and, seemingly, not one of them has any concern or explanation for their own conduct as an MP states to me that this, to them, is just another day at the office. Whereas, for most other Canadians, such conduct would be absolutely inexcusable. The question for me going forward is what in God’s name is going on in Canada’s foremost office?Is it any wonder we have bogged down to a level of such excruciatingly slow progress on any issue that the world has left us behind to bicker like a bunch of fools over who tagged who? Disgusting!

  10. Finally! An article that made sense and worth reading. If only these MP’s can act mature enough to take responsibility for their Boorish behaviour and move on to more important stuff

    • So are you advocating that we spend billions on housing the homeless? Because I can certainly get behind that. I believe if the country demands the government do this, they will.

      How do you suggest we start?

  11. Fortunately this “unacceptable” behaviour on the part of the PM has had one good consequence. The government has withdrawn the Bill which was the lead up to this unfortunate situation. I’m glad to see that Bill, which was more undemocratic than anything attempted by the previous government, gone.

  12. The issue is not the elbow to the chest. That was not on purpose. The issue is the temper tantrum the PM threw. The storming across the house – the grabbing of the Conservative MP and dragging him across the house shouting “Get the f**k out of my way. That shows childish immature behaviour by a spoiled brat. The man/child running Canada. Trudeau stated the new parliament was going to have “sunny ways”. If this is sunny I don’t want to see cloudy. It also shows the temperament of Trudeau. Will the real Trudeau please stand up. I think he just did in a short 7 months.

  13. Scott, your as silly as these baboons. Elbowgate! give me a break. Obviously miss chest has never played a sport, rode a bus or streetcar or even gone shopping. If you are going to block someone from voting, you may get your toes stepped on. Why are you even posting about this foolishness. You are as bad as they are.

  14. If anyone is “traumatized”… by the NDP and CON behavior is the the People of Canada – having been beyond embarrassed and shamed not only here at home but now around the world, over these beyond inept and utterly useless MP’s who by all rights should resign immediately. And stop their use of misappropriating our tax dollars with the horrendous strolling hate spewing cut & paste spam they force upon OMG anyone who refused to vote for them!

    • Yeah – I’m with you.

  15. The writer of this article is a complete derp. And frankly if this is how elected officials behave, they should all get elbowed in the side of the head. Despicable.

  16. I too saw the slowed down video and the whip had every opportunity to go around the blocked passage but chose not to. He was part and parcel of the delaying tactic and I believe colluded with the NDP in this matter. I could be wrong but stranger things in politics have happened before.

    This is tantamount to bullying the new kid in order to get their way.

    The Conservatives under Harper neutered Parliament as you say 100 times in their last 4 year session, more than any other party. The importance of the time limitation on the passage of the bill is the reason the delay needed addressing.

    So sadly, Justin’s action to try and speed up the issue was done in error. Hope he learned from it and is able to better control himself. This fracas reflects badly on all MPs.

    • First of all, there is an imaginary line down the center of the aisle and it is against the rules for MPs to leave their side and cross to the other.
      Also, if the PM had a bee in his bonnet to move things along (which is the Speaker’s job, not his) he could have discretely instructed the government whip to take his seat without waiting for the opposition whip. The Speaker can read the question as soon a one of the whips is seated. This has been done many times in the past. Huge bonus: Nobody makes an international laughingstock of themselves.

  17. Is this writer for real? Are we really going to go with the “there’s ‘real abuse’ in the world, therefore lets diminish the PM’s behaviour” argument? This goes well beyond #elbowgate – which I believe is a total deflection by the media to brush off the PM’s atrocious actions in the house. Brosseau was collateral damage – Trudeau got out of his seat (a no no), marched across the floor, aggressively tore through the crowd, swore at people to move, hard elbowed a woman, put his unwanted hands on another person and dragged him out of that circle. That is an assault – I don’t care how this author wants to spin doctor it. It gave us a sliver of insight into who this man really is. Funny for the writer to mention sociopathic behaviour at the end of the article – because that is exactly the sort of decorum we were privy to with Trudeau’s outburst. Any person who thinks it’s acceptable to swear/aggressively grab someone (in a professional environment) when you’re not getting your way, isn’t just a petulant child, but a troubled narcissist with anger issues.

    • The writer is not diminishing Trudeau’s behaviour. He is pointing out how much the opposition is embellishing it.

      There is a difference.

    • Posted too soon…

      Meant to point out that you are also guilty of embellishment. All your adjectives are a clumsy attempt to make this out to be something worse that what it was.

      He did not “aggressively” tear through a crowd. He reached around a few MP’s and took the whip’s arm. That he did so without the whip’s consent is not contested, by him or anyone else. He did not drag him though.

      Is it assault? Well only in the most technical of ways, but then many things are technical assaults.

      Was he wrong? Well he says he was, who am I to argue?

      • Why when you describe the incident do you always leave out his verbal command to “get the fuck out of my way?” Is it because that command doesn’t quite match up with his explanation that he was just escorting the whip and it wasn’t his intention to intimidate or harm anyone? You keep subtly suggesting he didn’t need to apologize but he acted like an a**hole instead of the statesman you keep reminding us that he is. I believe he actually shocked himself by his behavior. It was a 30 second delay and he acted before he thought it through. It isn’t about the behavior of others, it is about his response the behavior because the HOC is not going to change and now that they know that he has a short fuse, he is going to be tested often.

        • The opposition has already ‘tested” the PM- as the writer states- nobody heckled Harper when he was speaking.

  18. This appears be be an attempt to shift the focus onto the opposition and away from the actual event of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Comparing the number of real rapes and assaults during the 5 hours of, yes unnecessary complaining, opens the door to discussion about how maybe that 5 hours could have been spent having the Liberals explain to Canadians why just this week they decided to propel our veterans into a life of poverty and despair after promising to take care of them during the election a few short months ago. The most appalling part of this week’s entire shoddy episode was the emptying of the benches by the Liberal MPs behind the PM. That actually made me feel sick. How much hate there must be in the House of Commons that they would actually be prepared to attack the opposition. The most important sanctuary of debate in this country, the House of Commons is a toxic workplace and our politicians don’t seem to understand or see that. Is there anywhere to go but lower?

  19. Well said Scott. There are far more important issues to discuss and try to solve. Get on with what needs to be done.

  20. As a Canadian…I am embarrassed by the behavior of EVERYONE in this situation and am disappointed in the leaders of our country. I try to get my kids involved in learning about politics and my 16 year old said to me…’Mom…I don’t know why I need to learn about this stuff…they are acting worse than a bunch of kids at my school’….and the sad part is he is right. I work in the government with families and children who are exposed to ‘physical molestation’ on a regular basis…our politicians have no idea what that is like and this incident doesn’t even come close. When I saw that phrase on the bottom of the TV I was horrified and appalled! I also work in an environment where I am sometimes on the receiving end of a client’s anger both verbally and physically…these politicians have no right to claim they were traumatized…come work with me for a day or two and I will show you trauma on both sides of the scale!

  21. Unfortunately, Trudeau is also shallow, precious, inconsistent and narcissistic.
    Wonder who started the #elbowgate, was it Gerald Butts or Liberal supporter, this is where they lost my respect over the issue. We need to remember why this happened – Liberals high handed actions and Trudeau’s suck attack.

  22. As for Justin Trudeau acting like a juvenile as someone posted, I think he acted like the caring man that he is. If someone is being bullied as the video looks like is happening do you just stand by and watch or you man up like Justin did and do something about it. This has taken a lot of wasted time talking about it but one thing is pretty sure I WILL vote for someone who stands up for someone rather than someone who makes a mountain out of a mole hill. You bullies and you who back the bullies should be ashamed of yourselves. Please think before you open you mouths. Pictures show more than your words. I as someone of both bullying and abuse saw that you were bullying and Justin was just trying to stop it and the traumitized lady is just someone who wants to be in the limelight. Riding the bus or tram gets more elbowing than this. Should we all file complaints?

  23. What Gilmore hasn’t said anything about is the bullying that Ruth Ellen Brosseau is experiencing on social media. On her Twitter she is being called obscene names, on Facebook just cruel baseless insults. I didn’t know there was so much hatred and misogyny in Canada. What really troubles me is that some of the misogynistic comments are made by women.
    And Trudeau behaved like a bully, but he is being applauded.

  24. Oh please, if Harper had acted like this the opposition would be calling for his resignation.
    Quit blaming everyone other than Trudeau!

  25. The opposition now knows what button to push to put this entitled little brat off. I would call Justin an annoying, pompous, arrogant, entitled, unqualified, spoiled little twerp, but that would be insulting to annoying, pompous, arrogant, entitled, unqualified, spoiled little twerps.
    I truly admire opposition MPs who sit and listen to Bouffant Boy blithering on every day. It’s going to happen again, just you watch.

  26. Excellent article. I , too, was disgusted by the outpouring of ‘hurt feelings” by the MPs- for hours. Everyone had to get up and vent their perceived abuse, while, as Scott points out, real abuses are occurring in their constituencies.
    It is time for all of our elected officials to get over their petty partisanship and get down to business. We have had ten years of nasty divisiveness from our PC government. Enough.