Good evening once again, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to the second annual national telethon in support of victims of JTE—Justin Trudeau’s Elbow. I’m your host, Tom Mulcair.
It has been two years now since the Prime Minister stormed recklessly across the House of Commons, uttered a profanity and struck the chest of New Democrat MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Two long years—yet peace and justice continue to elude many who witnessed the traumatic event. This telethon is for them.
May 18 has become one of our nation’s most solemn days of remembrance. Over the past week, I’m sure you’ve noticed news coverage of the approaching anniversary. You’ve heard the songs on the radio, including Neil Young’s protest anthem from the summer of 2016, A Sharp Elbow to the Heart of Democracy. And we’ve all seen opposition MPs wearing their burgundy ribbons—a colour chosen to match the hue of my face that day when I kept hollering at Trudeau, “You’re pathetic.”
The wounds are still fresh. Canadians remember watching as members of Parliament stood on 5/18—it will forever be known as 5/18—and with halting voices described the “assault,” “physical molestation” and “manhandling” they had witnessed. Conservative MP Peter Van Loan called it an “extraordinary example of physical intimidation.”
In retrospect, we now understand that many of us were showing the first symptoms of PTSD—Post-Trudeau Skirmish Disorder. This is a relentless affliction. It’s not uncommon for PTSD sufferers to wake up three or four times a night from a nightmare in which Justin Trudeau butts in front of them in line at the grocery store checkout.
Over the past two years, a number of attempts have been made to help members of Parliament find closure. Debates in the House. An investigation by a Commons committee. Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai’s one-man show, The Elbow Monologues. But serenity continues to elude.
That’s why your support is vitally important. We did so much good with the millions raised during last year’s telethon. We bought blankets for affected MPs to huddle under. We paid the salaries of trauma counsellors who remain on call 24/7. And we commissioned a five-metre bronze statue that depicts Peter Van Loan losing his innocence.
Of course, I can talk and talk—heck, I’ve been talking for nine straight hours now! But I wasn’t as up close as some on 5/18. Let me introduce you to Niki Ashton. Thank you for being here, Niki, and thank you for your bravery.
Folks, I invite you—I dare you—to put yourself in Niki’s shoes. Imagine what this New Democrat hero went through two years ago. To see the Prime Minister of Canada striding briskly—briskly!—into your field of view. Then a cuss word. A cuss word from a politician on Parliament Hill! Surely a first.
And finally—I’m sorry I have to talk about this, Niki—amid the blur of blazers and pantsuits, Niki saw it: inadvertent physical contact. It scarred her psyche. No wonder she called the incident “disgusting” and “deeply traumatic.” No wonder she says she no longer feels safe in the House of Commons.
Niki has been travelling a rough road. Today, the mere glimpse of an elbow will prompt her to collapse into sobs. In solidarity, several members of the NDP caucus have had their arms surgically fused to ensure they never bend again. Still, she struggles. But there’s good news for Niki tonight.
With the money we’ve already raised this evening, we are going to change Niki’s life. Come Monday morning, she is going to stride confidently into the House of Commons and go to work in the safety and dignity of an impenetrable Plexiglas cube. She will be literally encased for her own protection.
And it’s just in time. Justin Trudeau continues to ignore the plight of helpless victims. In the month that followed his heinous act, the Prime Minister apologized only 47 times —including three times in the first 24 hours, twice at the candlelight vigil and four times when I stopped his motorcade by throwing myself on the hood of his car.
Our nation will never fully heal from the events of 5/18. But with your generous support we can get a few more MPs encased in Plexiglas cubes.
Won’t you please give?