What Justin Trudeau lost by losing his cool

What a Parliament Hill elbowing means for the much more serious matters of assisted death and electoral reform in a fractured House


The signature moments in a political life most often arrive when the politician says something that sticks. “Just watch me,” Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously recommended, and he was worth keeping an eye on, shrugging and pirouetting and striking gunslinger poses. But mostly we listened; his words mattered more. Often it’s not just the memorable phrases that stay with us, but the vocal instrument itself. Brian Mulroney’s viscous baritone was precisely the right delivery system for his grandiloquence. Jean Chrétien’s rasp scraped away affectation and left only what needed hearing.

But Justin Trudeau, so far, has been less about words, less about voice, than about a highly mobile, virally watchable, physical presence on the national stage. Sure, he’s offered up a few decent one-liners (“Because it’s 2015”) and borrowed from Sir Wilfrid Laurier (the catch-all catchphrase “sunny ways”). He has, however, left his most vivid impressions, not by saying, but by doing. Punching out a senator in a charity boxing match, or balancing babies on one hand. All but waltzing in rolled-up shirtsleeves through adoring throngs on the campaign trail, or gliding into the White House’s East Room, impeccably tuxed, for a state dinner.

So there was a sort of visual dissonance in the sight of him—shown countless times on TV and now infinitely online—doing what he did in the House of Commons last week. Picture that spectacle again, but this time in contrast to one of the scenes he’d starred in before. The long, loose gait of his triumphant walk up that sunlit lane to Rideau Hall to be sworn in as PM last fall, for instance, morphs into an awkwardly stiff stride as he rushes across the aisle of the House. He grasps Tory House leader Gordon Brown brusquely by the arm and ushers him unceremoniously to his seat. Along the way, no doubt inadvertently, he clumsily elbows NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau aside.

INCIDENT Justin Trudeau Ruth Ellen Brosseau Gord Brown. (CP)

INCIDENT Justin Trudeau Ruth Ellen Brosseau Gord Brown. (CP)

It would have been a graceless performance from any prime minister, though not a single one of Trudeau’s 22 predecessors is on record as having done anything remotely similar. But from a PM whose image is based to such an extent on the smooth way he pilots his tall, fit form through any tableau, the sequence was downright jarring. There’s a thin line between “youthful” and “immature,” and Trudeau crossed it the moment he decided to rise from his seat, eyes fiercely fixed on Brown, to try to single-handedly bring an end to what amounted to merely a routine bit of opposition delaying before a House vote could begin.

Within hours, perhaps minutes, the question of what his loss of self-control meant was being hashed over obsessively. While there was room for a range of reasonable reactions, the most outraged responses came off as more than a little unhinged. NDP MP Niki Ashton denounced the elbowing of Brosseau as the “furthest thing from a feminist act,” as if it erased Trudeau’s credentials as the first prime minister to appoint an equal number of women and men to his cabinet. Adopting the inevitable parlance of pop psychology, Conservative MP Candice Bergen offered this diagnosis: “He has anger issues and he needs to figure out how to control them.”

Another Tory MP, Mark Warawa, cast the incident less in terms of Trudeau’s loss of personal control, than as an extension of the Liberal imposition of political control, citing an ominous pattern of “domineering and dictatorial approaches.” If this wasn’t just Trudeau’s lapse—if his actions somehow revealed the way his government really functions—how long and dark a shadow might this moment be imagined to cast? Conservative MP David Sweet took that line of argument to its absurd extreme. “When the Prime Minister behaves in a fashion like he did yesterday,” Sweet declared in debate the next day, “it stains the institution, it stains us, and it stains every Canadian.”

Let it be stipulated that every Canadian need not worry about being marked by Trudeau’s embarrassment. Almost as quickly as over-the-top interpretations of his actions were aired, more measured readings were being recorded in Hansard. “What took place [on May 18] was inadvisable, but to call it gender-based violence, to make exaggerations and misrepresentations about the nature of the incident, is really irresponsible and wrongful,” Liberal MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in the House. “It does not help us take the culture in this place where it needs to be, and it does a disservice to victims of violence.”

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while responding to questions after delivering an apology in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 19, 2016 following a physical altercation the previous day. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while responding to questions after delivering an apology in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 19, 2016 following a physical altercation the previous day. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

It wasn’t only Liberals who tried to dial down the umbrage. After Trudeau apologized repeatedly for laying hands on Brown and knocking into Brosseau, some opposition MPs also proposed moving on. “We seem to be undermining even the heartfelt apology by the Prime Minister, who has admitted that his behaviour was untoward in this place and against the recognized rules of the House,” said NDP MP Linda Duncan. “I am starting to feel uncomfortable that not all members agree and have not accepted the Prime Minister’s apology.”

She meant, in fact, mainly Conservative MPs. The overall tone from the NDP was less unequivocally condemnatory. In fact, NDP MP Charlie Angus, who is often counted among the more respected voices in the House, said Trudeau’s actions, while wrong, resulted in part from annoyingly petty tactics that all parties needed to rethink. “I am not going to excuse his behaviour, but we have to go back to the disintegration of what is happening in this House and talk honestly about how to get forward,” Angus said. “When we go to these tit-for-tat procedural wars, the fundamental trust breaks down, and people end up doing things that they will regret.”

His reference to procedural wrangling in the House brings what was an eye-widening moment to its eye-glazing counterpoint. For most Canadians, House rules and regulations, and the manipulation of them by the parties, are boring. Still, those tactics matter in this case. The two weeks leading up to Trudeau’s most flagrant mistake to date in office were marked by rising bad feeling over, in particular, his government’s management of Bill C-14, the highly sensitive legislation that would allow physicians to help patients suffering “grievous and irremediable” illnesses end their lives, as required by a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision handed down last year.

The Liberals face a serious challenge trying to move Bill C-14 through the House in time to satisfy the court’s requirement that a medically assisted dying law be in place by June 6. MPs in all parties are deeply divided on the details of the bill, and on the underlying philosophical and religious issues surrounding suicide. As well, whenever the House gets through debating Bill C-14, the government must somehow coax the Senate into passing it swiftly. Asked how much time senators need, Trudeau’s new top representative in the upper chamber, Sen. Peter Harder, said dryly: “It can be done in whatever time frame the Senate collectively views appropriate for its consideration and due process.”

In other words, don’t hold your breath. Facing delays beyond their control in the Senate, Trudeau and his parliamentary lieutenants foolishly overreached in trying to manage what, with a big majority, they supposed they could: the House. The Liberals proposed a set of unprecedented rules—labelled Motion No. 6—to strip the opposition of time-honoured procedural tools, which would normally allow them to somewhat slow the progress of any bill. Among other measures, Motion No. 6 would have let cabinet ministers force MPs to debate through the night, and taken away the opposition parties’ say in when the House would break for the summer.

On the day after Trudeau’s flustered foray across the aisle onto opposition turf, the Liberals withdrew Motion No. 6, in a humbling bid to make peace with the opposition parties, and signal contrition. Most Canadians, understandably, wouldn’t have seen that as a big deal. On Parliament Hill, though, it mattered. Indeed, NDP MP Peter Julian went so far as to characterize the withdrawing of the motion as the end of “the most draconian power grab that any government has ever attempted in Canadian history.”

NDP MP Peter Julian rises to debate the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday April 3, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

NDP MP Peter Julian rises to debate the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday April 3, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Julian is the NDP House leader, a position that carries weight on the Hill and barely registers off it. Each party has one; they meet regularly to discuss how the House business will be managed, including how long bills will be debated. The Conservatives’ is Andrew Scheer, who served as Speaker, the House’s enthroned referee, during the Stephen Harper era. The Liberals’ is Dominic LeBlanc, veteran New Brunswick MP and Trudeau’s childhood friend. The unseen interactions among these three will be crucial in the coming weeks, when management of C-14, and other issues, might signal the tone Trudeau can expect in the Commons until the next election.

LeBlanc declined to be interviewed for this story. Julian summed up the challenge for the Liberals as a fundamental matter of attitude. “The government has to stop thinking of itself as having to control everything,” he said. Scheer said Trudeau showed, in that telling moment last week, that he harbours an inflated sense of his own ability to make a decisive impact in almost any situation. “I just think of the look that came over his face—‘I’m going to take it upon myself to fix the perceived wrong that I see here,’ ” Scheer said. “That’s what’s so bizarre.”

There was also some surprise, among veteran MPs, that Liberals allowed Trudeau to act so recklessly. “There’s a convention we have in the House: We protect each other,” Julian said. “If there’s a New Democrat that is heading off across the way, I’m going to stop them. It hasn’t happened too often, but occasionally I’ve had to say, ‘Nope, don’t do that.’ Mr. Trudeau came across twice; nobody from the Liberal caucus did as much as halt him for a moment.”

The tribal code of parliamentarians about their behaviour in the House naturally differs from what the public sees. As far as their government’s image in the eyes of ordinary Canadians goes, some Liberals voiced private concern that Trudeau had squandered, in a moment’s loss of composure, much of their claim to having ushered in a new era of civility in Ottawa, after the acrimony of the Harper era.

Andrew Scheer, Opposition House Leader, left to right, Bloc Quebecois MP Luc Theriault, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party and Peter Julian, NDP House Leader, hold a joint press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, May 19, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Andrew Scheer, Opposition House Leader, left to right, Bloc Quebecois MP Luc Theriault, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party and Peter Julian, NDP House Leader, hold a joint press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, May 19, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Green Leader Elizabeth May credited the Liberals with having made genuine progress on that front—until a couple of weeks ago. She pointed to question period, where Liberal cabinet ministers might not be giving direct answers in all cases, but at least they haven’t been resorting, as Harper’s front bench so often did, to responding to questions with partisan attack lines barely related to the topic at hand.

And it’s not that the Liberals, according to May, have been getting an easier ride. On the contrary, she suggests the thickness of Trudeau’s skin has been tested more relentlessly than Harper’s was. “No matter how exercised the opposition was when Stephen Harper was prime minister, there was never loud heckling while he was speaking,” she told Maclean’s. “There was the occasional shout of something in response, but generally, there wasn’t a disrespectful, constant heckling.”

Still, May says the Liberals made the “huge mistake” of trying to circumvent legitimate opposition to their assisted-dying legislation, an emotionally fraught and divisive topic with profound consequences. “I think it was a miscalculation,” she said. “That may be an overly charitable way of describing it.”

As she describes it, the week leading up to Trudeau’s aisle-crossing debacle was a series of escalating retaliatory moves in the House. For instance, she says an NDP member rose to make a routine request for permission to share his speaking time—a common House practice—and the Liberals shut him down. “I’ve never seen unanimous consent denied for splitting time,” May said. “That was the signal for me that things had gotten extremely bad.”

The best possible outcome for Liberals of Trudeau’s un-prime-ministerial moment would be if it served to release pent-up partisan pressures in the House. Compelled in the aftermath to make more judicious use of their majority clout, the Liberals might actually find themselves managing the place better. Certainly, some of the comments from the NDP MPs and May suggest they have potential working partners on the opposition benches, although conciliatory sentiment is in much shorter supply among the Tories.

Beyond Bill C-14, though, a potentially even more divisive issue looms large as a source of dysfunctional fractiousness on Parliament Hill in the coming months: electoral reform. Of all Trudeau’s policies, his vow to end the traditional “first past the post” system for electing MPs arouses the deepest anxieties. In last year’s Liberal platform, Trudeau pledged that if he became prime minister, the 2015 election would be the last one conducted the traditional way, with the local candidate who got the most votes going to Ottawa and the rest getting nothing.

Martin Patriquin: How the Liberals turned electoral reform into a pointless slo-mo train crash

Conservatives and New Democrats alike fear Trudeau will impose a new voting system that benefits the Liberal party. Soon after he behaved so badly on the floor of the House, they began trying to link the mindset he betrayed in that moment to the attitude behind his electoral-reform push. Earlier this month, his government announced that a special parliamentary committee—dominated by a majority contingent of Liberal MPs—would study electoral-reform options. The NDP had argued that, when it comes to changing the way Canadians vote, the Liberals should have voluntarily surrendered the power to use their majority, requiring them to find opposition allies for any reform proposal.

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef is applauded by her party as she responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef is applauded by her party as she responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The Conservatives used much of the first question period after the uproar on the House floor to press Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef on the electoral-reform process. Their key demand: a referendum on whatever proposal emerges from the committee process and other consultations. Trudeau doesn’t like that idea. Not surprisingly, Monsef—whose chipper unflappability is starting to get under the skin of opposition MPs—didn’t crack under Tory grilling.

Monsef and LeBlanc gave the committee only seven months to report back with proposals for a new way to vote. The main options include proportional representation (PR) and preferential balloting. Under various types of PR, the number of votes a party gets would be better reflected in its share of House seats; it’s the system long favoured by the NDP and Greens. A preferential balloting system would likely ask voters to rank candidates, with their second and third choices being counted only if their first-choice candidates were dropped due to lack of support. Ranked balloting tends to reward centrist parties, so wary opposition MPs suspect that’s where the Trudeau Liberals are leaning.

The fight over electoral reform is shaping up to be a bitter one. What it lacks in the ethical depth of assisted dying, it makes up for in high-stakes implications for the future prospects of parties winning power. As long as the Liberals leave open the possibility that they will use their majority to ram through the reform they like best, lasting de-escalation of Hill tensions is unlikely. “When you have a majority government, particularly one that feels incredibly self-confident, as the current Liberal government does, then bad things happen,” Julian said.

That’s a partisan’s perspective, of course. For most Canadians, seeing Trudeau acting as his own enforcer might have been riveting, but not definitive. Polling firm Abacus Data found 71 per cent said it had no impact on their opinion of him, while 23 per cent said they thought less of him—and six per cent liked him better. A rolling weekly poll by Nanos Research found 68.8 per cent of Canadians saw Trudeau as having the qualities of a good leader last week, up a shade from the week before his temper got the better of him. “People will take an interest in this, for sure,” said pollster Nik Nanos. “But will it change their perceptions? Likely not. For that, they look for a pattern of behaviour, and this particular instance is contrary to the pattern of behaviour they would expect from Justin Trudeau.”

—with Shannon Proudfoot


What Justin Trudeau lost by losing his cool

  1. I do not think that people blame anyone but the NDP for this foolishness. The reaction from a little bump was seriously over the top. This points to the theatrics of the NDP. Nobody is talking about the assisted dying legislation which is tragic, and the deadline from the Supreme Court will not be met. This is the direct result of the NDP and their obvious desire to get headlines over passing reasonable legislation.

    Trudeaus actions were very human and in this case I do not blame him. I do not think he should have apologized more than once publicly.

    When it comes to assisted dying legislation there is no perfect solution. Half the people want more choice and the other half do not think that you should encourage people to kill themselves. The bill that has been presented is conservative and that is a good thing. Changes can be made later as the process evolves but if people are dying because of some rash spur of the moment choice they made that would be tragic. Now let’s move on to a vote. It is a free vote so everyone should be free to vote their conscience.

    • Good point. Just made Trudeau seem more human, real, or authentic to the average observer.
      Media coverage missed that. People could also see that the NDP reaction was the very worst of blind, self serving partisanship.

      • Are you forgetting bill6 to limit the ability of opposition to debate? That is something right out of the Con play book but no, it came out JT’s play book. He could have still carried on but apparently he didn’t know enough about parliamentary procedure. His swearing and pushing made him “more human.” Just like Ghomeshi’s slapping and grinding was only harassment not abuse? The opposition is supposed to hold the government accountable. JT is supposed to learn the game without getting his body physically involved. Why do you think he groveled? He blew it and now they know he has a short fuse. He is in for it big time. Heckling 101! Stephen Harper can retire a happy man. JT will explode a few times and show he isn’t ready for the HOC where it is a game that he promised to make “more civil.” Hahaha. I’ll be those Cons were just raising money like crazy off this one…..

        • If the opposition’s ability to comment grows to a state of filibustering or actually impeding votes and members, it would indicate they cannot govern themselves and perhaps they need some kind of time constraint.

          I doubt you will get the type of result from this that you are hoping for.

          • According to the Globe and Mail, the delay was 30 seconds long when Trudeau jumped up and crossed the floor. As long as his whip was in his seat, he could have proceeded with the vote. He is apparently not well schooled in parliamentary procedure although I am sure he got a lesson from his own speaker, hence the many apologies. As for the opposition having a filibuster, it was in fact the Libs who wanted to push thru bill 6 to limit debate on the assisted suicide bill even if it meant staying all night. After Trudeau’s unseemly behaviour, he backed on bill 6 abandoning it. To blame the opposition for bringing to light the Libs attempt to bypass parliamentary procedures is like blaming the opposition when they tried to stop Harper from sneaking thru unpalatable bills bundled in huge amounts of legislation. That is the oppositions job and we as tax payers should be grateful they are doing it.

        • Gage G. I agree with your post. I look at all the justification posts and the”let’s get this over with” posts and find the lack of understanding of the issues and the idea the prime minister is just an ordinary bloke a sad comment on our society.

          • Robertvan and Gage G.,
            I agree with you both. What Trudeau did, beyond the inadvertent elbow, demonstrated a lack pr personal control as well as a clear lack of understanding of House of Commons rules and process.

        • Filibustering a vote is the same as assault on the house to perform duties the everyday Canadian asks the elected to do. The MP that was bumped is just as guilt of the incident by participating in the filibuster. This is all sound and furry signifying nothing. What’s her name needs to go back to Las Vegas to rethink her priorities as a MP. They all need to put their personal agendas aside.

          • is filibustering only assault on the house? or is it assault on the senate when it happens there?
            do you think trudeau will put an end to liberal filibustering in the senate?

        • The Conservatives act like children in the house with their heckling and booing at every comment they don’t like. They should be kicked out every time and then we will get some progress. Trudeau definitely should not have done that but seeing the NDP group giggling and tee-heeing by blocking the whip’s path must have been very frustrating. Canadians want these fairly well-paid MP’s to work not stand around and play games.

          • Well, let’s put one and one together, shall we?

            If there were less heckling of the Conservatives in the previous parliament, and the media had been always praising Mulcair’s parliamentary skills, and the NDP was the official opposition…

            And now this time around, we are getting more heckling of the Liberals in the current government, and the media is criticizing the Conservatives of the acrimony…

            It would be a gross simplification to take Elizabeth May’s comments as gospel that it is the Conservatives’ who are the unreasonable ones, and that they have the sole responsibility for the Liberals getting a rougher ride.

          • Why is it a “gross simplification”? She is there every day, and she is not affiliated with any of the parties. She is calling it the way she sees it.

            And really, why would we not believe her? This is the party that was responsible for conduct like using member statements (that took place before QP) to ridicule and heckle the opposition leader to put him off his game. You know, the kind of conduct you expect from children.

          • Well, for one, we are not being given specific concrete examples. We are asked to trust her because she says so. That’s why it would be a gross simplification to take her statement to be of more weight than others’ statements based on the merit of specific contexts. Afterall, we do have an FPTP system — MPs are individually elected, to the best of the civic participation in each riding.

            And, anyway, children are generally kind creatures.

          • So Harper and the Cons invented heckling in the house? Justin invented calling people a piece of shit and telling them to get the fuck out of his way. He also seems to have invented sticking his tongue out at people and of course laying his hands on people across the floor…..Just think Justin promised a more civil house but of course it is never his fault. I wonder who started the standing the Libs gave Justin after he crossed the floor? That was a classy act but it can’t have been their fault. The cons must have caused it.

          • I am not sure what her credibility has to do with whether she is oversimplifying the issue.

          • Not sure if this reply is going to land where it is supposed to but it is intended for Gage G.’s comment regarding Trudeau sticking out his tongue. That is a bunch of crap Gage G. and you probably know it. The Conservative, Blake Richards, accused Trudeau of sticking out his tongue knowing that the story would be repeated by people who are either too stupid to fact check or have very flexible morals. Here is the direct quote from that article: “A review of the available video shows no tongue, only a brief glimpse of the prime minister making off the record comments to the opposition side as the infrastructure minister concludes the official response. The image is thus lost to history and left to the imagination”.

            As for Trudeau calling the Conservative Peter Kent a “piece of shit”, check back on that story Gage C. Trudeau was actually defending NDP Megan Leslie from a blatant lie by Kent. Trudeau apologized for his language right away but Kent was a total lying jerk and never did apologize.

            Finally, since I am sure that you are going to turn over a new leaf to try to be truthful yourself, have a look at the elbowgate video again. There are Conservative opposition MPs who are clapping and laughing along with the Liberal MPs once Trudeau has guided Brown through the blockade. Even Mulcair and the NDP are laughing as Trudeau is returning to his seat. There didn’t appear to be much shock or outrage by what has just happened. In fact it probably would have been a moment of parliamentary brevity if Brosseau had not been bumped (which at that point few were aware of) and may have been nothing more than a quick little sound bite on the evening news. It was Brosseau who had a choice at that moment to return to her seat where she should have been a vote as was her duty or to try to make political mileage with it. She chose the latter which resulted with a few MPs coming with with ridiculous over the top comments….”molestation”, “attacked”, women don’t feel safe….good grief! She and the NDP looked like the biggest fools as did some of the Conservative MPs (think Peter Van Loan) and I think that Trudeau came out looking human and not unreasonable with what he did.

            In any case, try to be a little more accurate with what you repeat, Gage C. It makes you look like a fool otherwise. Besides, I am sure you will sleep better knowing that you have tried to be truthful.

          • Re: Gayle1 at 9:06 pm post

            I’m referring to Tom Rudd’s 4:18 pm post, which is misapplying Ms May’s comment to cover more than it should. I am not attacking Ms May’s credibility, but objecting to the co-option of Ms May’s credibility as a cover for blanketing statements, to justify themselves as speaking gospel truth. Please note the “that” in my post at 1:03 pm.

          • sorry, i mean 8:55 pm post.

          • Re: Francis L.

            I’m having doubts about your intentions. You sure made me look. The more fool me, if those doubts are correct. I was sure I saw the smile wiped off Niki Ashton’s face right after the elbow, and her hand on Brosseau, as if an immediate reaction of, “oh my goodness, are you okay”.

            Conservatism is a value, not a party. Even if I were affiliated with the Liberal party, I would not follow the way in which you do it, as it seems, in reaching an end (in your case Liberal partisanship) with unjustiable means (recklessness with the facts sprinkled with the appearance of certainty).

          • SWSC:

            You have posted two misinformed/dishonest posts in reply to my comments to Gage C.

            In your first post I have no idea why you think the Youtube video of Peter Kent doesn’t agree with what I wrote. Check out the Dec 14, 2011 stories in Globe and Mail, National Post, and CBC. You should have investigated a little further before making your post. The incident happened as I described it and Trudeau apologized immediately after Question Period.

            As for the first paragraph of your second post about Niki Ashton’s smile being wiped off her face,again, READ what I wrote! Maybe what I was getting at will sink in this time. I didn’t say that Brosseau did not get hit.

            I wrote my post in response to stupidity spouted by Gage C. Especially idiotic was her repeating the tongue story. Conservatism may be a value, but unfortunately the prior federal government has now linked conservative values to intolerance and divisiveness not to mention the moral/ethical void they left behind which was clearly articulated by Judge Vaillancourt. It is certainly not same Progressive Conservative party that I had voted for before.

            I always double check my facts before I post and you would do well to do the same before you reply. The second paragraph in your second comment makes you sound like a sage wannabe who is completely full of themselves. My facts are solid if you only took the time to check them out.

      • Said it before, will say it again: just about everybody comes out looking like a effing idiot in this affair: Trudeau for his immature response (‘get the f*** out of my way’, grabbing CPC whip), NDP and CPC MPs for after statements that were *way* over-the-top, NDP for blocking of CPC whip.

        Only Elizabeth May comes off looking like an adult.

        • Jim R I am afraid you forget she is a political nobody who hopes to get something in return for her liberal support.

        • Thank you for your comment. Mr. GREEN !
          There are a lot more shouting idiots in the house to drown out her one voice.

        • Including Elizabeth May with adults is insulting to adults, although, in the order of MPs, she holds the highest position. But what about Harper who seemed to be having a good laugh over the whole affair?

          • that’s called schadenfreude …

    • Too right. What this article glosses over is how this incident highlighted the childish antics of the NDP and exposed Mulcair as a beerhall bully (with is raised fists and loud namecalling). NDP MP Peter Julian’s strident grandstanding does nothing to disabuse us of the vituperative attitude of his leader.
      “The government has to stop thinking of itself as having to control everything,” possibly true but the NDP has to stop thinking of itself as more than a minority opposition party: perpetual bitterness over a licking in the last election is unproductive. Sadly, this episode shows Charlie Angus in a bad light when previously he appeared to be a man of integrity and an honest dealer. NDP MP Niki Ashton’s “furthest thing from a feminist act,” implies that feminism would survive if Mr Trudeau had collided with a male MP.
      The conservatives, surprisingly, distinguished themselves by saying a few less dumb things.

      • so, assaulting a person is ok, but standing up to the assault is not? And now you think Mulcair is the bully?

        • This is the problem in our society with social media. Everything gets overblown. You may want to talk to people who have been truly assaulted. There needs to be intent.

          Your comments demean everyone who have actually been assaulted in real life. It trivializes the trauma they have actually experienced.

          • So I can take you by the arm and escort you to where I want you? I can do the same with Mr Trudeau?
            It is not blowing it out of proportion to say that this was technically an assault. And about as inappropriate as can be in the HoC. We are lucky that cooler heads prevailed …. the response could have been a to push back at Trudeau.

          • There are thousands of “technical assaults” in this country occurring every day.

            It is absolutely blowing this out of proportion when opposition members spend 5 hours in the House talking about their trauma. The only person with any perspective was the PM, who immediately and repeatedly apologized, and did not not put responsibility on anyone other than himself.

        • DC Toronto: you may want to take a look at the comments from NDP supporters on both the NDP’s and Tom Mulcair’s Facebook site in relation to how they feel about this incident. It’s not a pretty picture but it is worthwhile reading the comments I believe. To my mind they are heartfelt and sincere overall.

  2. I think Geddes is seriously misreading how the public views this. I have friends who are supporters of the three main parties, and it’s pretty unanimous regardless of the party the back that this was complete idiocy on the part of all parties – starting with the NDP physically blocking the Tory whip’s path. And the over-the-top comments post-event by the CPC and NDP members seem to have done them more damage than the Liberals.

    It was a bad move on Trudeau’s part – but at least he had the decency to accept blame for his actions and apologize. Had this been Harper or a member of his government, he would have doubled down and tried to assign blame on everyone else back to Sir John A.

    Time to drop this tempest in a teacup and get back to governing.

    • Harper was always ice cold. He was never a hot head. He would never have gotten worked up over a delay in the start of a debate. He knows who to play the game. He would never stride across the house and lay hands on anyone. He would never say “get the f*ck out of my way.” He would ask the speaker to call the house to order. Remember how you mocked him for hiding in the closet? Of course Trudeau apologized repeatedly and then again because he broke with parliamentary procedures after he was trying ram a bill down the oppositions throat by limiting their ability to debate. It doesn’t matter if this is a one off but if he can’t keep his cool in the HOC and by the sounds of it (according to Liz May) they are heckling him big time, he may blow again. He called Peter Kent a piece of sh*t in the past. He will have to stop attending debates if he can’t play the game or he will have to smoke ganja to calm himself. He might be the PM but to be a parliamentarian is to deal with politics of the house in a non physical manner and to be better than the cons were. He can’t try to shut down debate and he can’t be using his physicality. Nobody crosses the floor. As so many of the left reminded the right with Harper, 60 percent did not vote for Trudeau despite his majority so there is no need to feel entitled to run all of parliament in accordance with a Liberal agenda. The opposition is supposed to keep the government in check and if a 30 second delay on a vote (according to the Globe and Mail) is enough to make the PM physically cross the floor, he needs to learn some patience. I know he must have it at home. He has three small children and HOC is much like a daycare.

      • Harper may not have reacted this way, but there were those in his party who could – and did – lose their cool. Think Van Loan. Apologies weren’t their thing; blaming others was. Which was the point of my second paragraph.

        BTW – good memory for remembering my poking fun of Harper’s closet caper.

      • Personally, I don’t think that what happens in the House should be a game. I completely understand why someone who wants to get things done is frustrated by others who want to be paid (by taxpayers no less) to play games.

        PS – Trudeau was right about Kent.

        • John Geddes: Justine never lost anything; he never had it in the first place, other than in the eyes of true-bluers like Gayle.

          • Hey, Blacktop
            Is this the best you can come up with?
            Try to stay with the subject!

          • Umm, what?

        • Hey Richard Castle: I was on topic: look at the head of the article i.e What has Justin Trudeau lost . . .” etc

    • Keith Bram This laughable idea that any professional politician not even considering past prime ministers would act like this is ludicrous, which makes your post a clearly miss understanding of the issues.

  3. When you cite Charlie Angus as reasonable you lose all credibility.

    • You missed the point that he is respected by all sides. That’s his comment counted.

      • If he is respected by “everybody” why didn’t the PM show up for the emergency Attawapiskat suicide debate that Angus called? Instead Justin went out for supper and a book signing.

      • So he’s not reasonable but he is respected?
        In reality he’s as dim as Liz May … his ramblings garner very little respect from those who use logic and reason

  4. The inside the Queensway bubble has consumed this navel gazing Ottawa media. Everybody knows the media hugely overreacted and embarrassed the profession.
    Clearly Ashton, Brosseau, Mulcair, and several obscure Conservative backbenchers disgraced themselves more than Trudeau. Sure Trudeau reacted with emotion and anger which got the best of him for a short time. Ashton has time to compose herself and get a grip, but the results were such that she can never be taken seriously again.
    But the media gushed, Brosseau was put on a pedestal, and the clip shown over and over. Funny, they thought the tape exposed Trudeau but it really put the NDP in a worse light every time it was shown.
    Rick Salutin got the whole about right in today’s Star Touch.
    It’s time for the corporate bosses of the Ottawa media to divert some of the Ottawa River and flush out the filthy media stables left over from 10 years of Harper worship and cowering before his every wish.
    Now we are seeing how a real government moves forward on multiple issues and rewrites history with a hopeful optimistic attitude.
    Our media were Taught by a master of cheap shots, gotcha politics and a narrow nasty view of government and the country.
    Everything in official Ottawa has changed for the better; PM, cabinet, caucus, civil service; only the media stay the same a reflection of the attitudes and style learned over a dark period in our history.
    Please let’s see some fresh, clean, shiny, even sunny faces and voices in our TV screens, radio commentaries, newspapers and magazines.
    This all so boring. What will Rex say this week?

    • Oh please…..JT its adored by the media. Harper never gave the media its due and he tried to shut down the CBC. JT’s line about ‘escorting’ the Con whip and never intending to hurt anyone would a lot more believable if he hadn’t told the NDP to get the fuck out of the way. Before you put that halo around his head and blame the media for Harper-love, think back to the whole Duffy gate and Harper. Turns out they had nothing on anybody except maybe Nigel who wrote a cheque for $90 grand to save the taxpayers a bit of money.. Meanwhile Justin and Sophie are taking an anniversary day in Japan. They are picking up the tab for the hotel BUT we are paying for the pilots, the security the civil servants accompanying them, etc. I recall a time when Harper took one of his kids to an evening hockey game in Boston and the left went ballistic. They went ballistic when he attended the Olympics in Vancouver. They thought he should fly commercial to and from Calgary. Justin takes 44 people to Washington including his mother and in-laws for three days and its all wonderful. Justin can do no wrong so of course, him crossing the floor and laying hands on people in the HOC is someone else’s fault. He doesn’t need a speaker. He will just walk around like a bouncer and keep everyone in line. Doesn’t matter that he got less than 40 percent of the vote, he is now God and we better all be grateful to have him just like you Libs who voted for him are. Thank goodness he is spending 30 billion of our taxpayer money per year instead of 10. What would do without him? Let’s give Sophie 4 assistants and another nanny. Let’s give Margaret a nanny.

      • You forgot the day off at a fancy hideaway in Japan. He’s Lazy too. Don’t you follow Hannah Thibideau? She was all over it.

        • Oh no, I did not forget it. So many people are defending it, saying he is picking up the tab. Okay, he is paying for the hotel for 1 night but is paying for the extra day for the plane and the pilots, the security detail, the civil servants he has taken with him? Highly unlikely. I have been married 30 years. My parents 67 years. Never ever took a day off from work for our anniversaries. My parents raised 9 kids. Had to feed them. My mom never had a nanny and she worked as a school teacher and got her degree at night school and summer school. My dad was a rancher. They are 89 now. My husband missed my university graduation and my parents 40th wedding anniversary party due to work. I had baby in 4th year and went back to school the next day. Work/life balance is something you do when you are rich and can afford two nannies or someone else is paying. Otherwise you just work and squeeze life in after work. He and she are rich. He said he didn’t need taxpayer money to look after his kids during the election but he couldn’t wait to belly up to the trough. Apparently he promised veterans they would get their pensions that Harper denied them back. Apparently they aren’t getting them. He got elected on promises to help First Nations but he didn’t show up at the emergency debate for suicides at Attawapiskat. He went out for supper instead. They had sit ins at Federal buildings. Now Sophie needs more help. Yes, I am a tad bit disillusioned. Especially with his trying to stop debate in the HOC. That would be more like a Con trick. I can’t say I am surprised though. I expected him to be quite a bit like his father. He just isn’t quite as subtle or sneaky.

          • You are more than disillusioned, Gage G. If you have worked like you said and your dad is a rancher then I suspect you may be as well off or even better than Justin Trudeau. You would do well to do a little research on his net worth. You would also do well to read Judge Vaillancourt’s ruling. And read it over and over again. Then perhaps you will understand why people have grown to dislike Harper so much. It is because of things that he did, not just because he exists. People like you hate Trudeau simply because he breathes. There is not a thing that he can do that will ever please you. What seems odd is that with your super busy work schedule that you were able to “squeeze” in so much time to spout copious amounts of vacuous vitriol.

          • You’re comparing pears and pumpkins. The amount of work and number of hours per day that any Prime Minister of the country puts in is exhausting beyond belief.

      • Re Duffygate: The wrong person(s) was charged. The RCMP messed up – whether through incompetence, or deliberately, I don’t know. But coincidentally, the CPC passed a law that made another of the RCMP’s illegal actions retroactively legal… which smells a lot to me like quid pro quo.

        There was a lot of very smelly goings-on in Ottawa during Harper’s reign…

  5. Trudeau was not flustered or awkward. He was frustrated and somewhat angry. It may be surprising for political journalists and commentators to understand why reaction to this from Trudeau and Party supporters is going to be less than gratifying to their expectations. Trudeau was never an enigma or a blank slate for us and we knew what we were getting. We have a tiger by the tail, but fortunately he is our tiger and he likes us and loves Canada.

  6. John Geddes:

    My view is that you have it exactly backwards in relation to how the rank and file Canadian sees this.

    Look a little deeper at the Abacus data rather than just on the surface which is what our so called journalists tend to do these days – check the trend in both Mulcair’s and Ambrose’s approval ratings after this incident vs. before. Then do the same with Trudeau’s.
    Look deeply into this week’s Nanos numbers and read the hundreds on comments on the NDP and Tom Mulcair’s Facebook pages that were placed there by angry (now-ex) NDP supporters.

    Watch the slow motion video on You Tube; but more importantly talk with friends and family that are not inside your Ottawa bubble.

    And lastly, know that even though you repeat that what Trudeau did was wrong many tens of times, that does not necessarily make it so. Some of us felt that he was the only adult in the room.

    Things evolve over time, Mr Geddes, and behaviour that some in the chattering class would deem as “non-prime ministerial” may be to another’s eye “a breath of fresh air in a sea of childish behaviour”

    I suggest to you sir that your perceptions of this telling debacle are a bit faded.

    • ABH You sir have missed the boat, your beloved Justin has done squat for Canada and all the money thrown around outside Canada is done to make him look good internationally he hopes.

    • I disagree-Harper was far too smart and too much of a gentleman to ever do such an arrogant, foolish thing. Trudeau behaved like a school yard bully!!

      • Do you mean he did something that was not politically correct?

        Oh my….

      • I think cunning is a more appropriate term for Harper. And him a gentleman?? Where did you dream that up?? He was a hot tempered bully who did not hesitate to steamroll anyone who got in his way. I assume that you read the ruling from the Duffy trial. That gives a very complete summary of Harper’s ethics and morals. He had no hesitation to destroy people and their lives. What Trudeau did was hardly bullying. He simply got things rolling in the house. There would have been next to nothing said about the incident if it hadn’t been for Brosseau going for best dramatic actress.

  7. Is this what Macleans considers analysis? Never in the history of Canadian politics has so much ink been wasted on an incident that has no meaning to anyone other than news starved journalists. This rush to take the higher ground does little but make Geddes appear more asinine than the professed outrage of those MPs who were traumatized witnessing the incident. Much ado about nothing. The only aspect of the whole incident that is embarrassing is that people who pass themselves off as professional journalists have succumbed to such drivel. I apologize for expecting more.

  8. Let’s see what the response of Canadians is when the liberal mandate is finished.

  9. What a load of nonsense. The only people trying to keep this ‘incident” going are the people in the media.
    Nobody else cares.

  10. The columnist claims that no other pm has done “anything remotely similar”. Is it my flawed memory, or did Jean Chretien not one day angrily leave a podium to grab a protester?

  11. The general theme from some conservatives here is that “Harper never did anything like this so he is the better man”.

    If he hadn’t spent so much time ruining the country, I might even care about that. If Trudeau wasn’t fixing so many things so quickly, this whole elbowgate thing might bother more people.

    But the truth is, Trudeau is a better PM, and Canadians know it. So the country is willing to forgive this lapse in judgment. They must think it is better a PM who crosses the floor than a PM who lies, misappropriates public money for partisan advertising, fear mongers and attacks a religious symbol of a cultural minority in a desperate attempt to win an election.

    • Gayle1,
      All Trudeau has done so far is three things: take selfies; give money away outside of Canada; and try to remove every element of Harper’s legacy regardless of how sensible they were. And when he tries to speak without rehearsed, dramatized notes, his ooing and aaing is both annoying as well as embarrassing. Forget this parliamentary stupidity he just did, I can’t forgive him for all of the other dumb things he’s doing. I truly hope he lasts no more than one term and wish there was a process available to end it sooner before he ruins the country. His father, who was much smarter, almost ruined Canada with massive spending and related debt which caused runaway inflation and 18% mortgage rates. The lightweight son will do even more damage. Harper was smarter, far more articulate-indeed a much better man. You can tell-I’m with the over 60% who didn’t want the man child.

      • “…try to remove every element of Harper’s legacy…”

        One of the reasons he is so popular.

        See, your real problem is that you cannot understand that your point of view is offside with the vast majority of the country. No one cares that you do not like him, your juvenile jabs notwithstanding.

      • Really, Jerome? Harper was handed a large legitimate (unlike Harper’s bogus apparent surpluses) surplus, blew it and increased our national debt by 34% or 150 plus billion dollars. Nearly three quarters of that debt was due to his stupid but populist GST cut and NOT the financial crisis. Check out the audited financial statements for the federal government and add up how much we lost through the years in direct GST revenue and then added interest payments as the debt increased. As for 60% who did not want him, well nice try. The 60% who did not vote for Harper in 2011 truly did NOT want Harper whereas many of the 60% who did not select Trudeau as their first choice in 2015 are still quite happy that Trudeau got in. That is the difference between those two majorities of 39%. And that is why the conservatives are so scared of the ranked ballot. They have painted themselves into a corner with their nastiness, divisiveness and fiscal incompetence.

        • These are not juvenile jabs-they are truthful observations. We will all look back at the end of his term and be dismayed by what has happened to Canada. Just like we are already with the Liberal disaster in Ontario which, if it were a sovereign entity, would be the most indebted in the world!!

          • Well, “truth” can be in the eye of the beholder. The things that I stated above are statistical facts. We know what a mess Harper left, both ethically and fiscally. Trudeau is working at cleaning that up. He is only a few months into that and you have no idea what his first four years is going to look like. I suspect that he is going to be around for a least a further four years after his first mandate.

        • Your memory is bad. We had an economic melt down, were blackmailed by US into buying into GM or else they would go to another sandbox. I think the Harp did marvelously on the economics of this file. Justine is just another tax-and-spend Liberal.

        • *yawn* …. a deficit during a minority govt at the request of, and with support of Liberal party

          • And what would that deficit have been had Harper not made the ill advised cut to the GST?

            But hey, at least he was able to use that deficit to spend money on pet projects like gazebos!

        • I am happy for the change. But the world has dramatically changed in the past twenty years. Capital moves easily around the world. Large financing schemes are usually a consortium of banks around the world. Can’t wait to see the “NEW” Canadian economy attract investment and customers… Not holding my breath. Infrastructure spending that has no direct lead to business economic activity are the “bridges to nowhere” political mentality not understanding how the capital markets work. Have a look at Wynne’s Ontario, and see if Canada can shoulder the same burden. Now with USA threatening a rate hike, where will the borrowing costs be when the renewals are needed? This is the trouble with politicians that have never done anything other then get elected. They have no idea how to create economic growth, nor ensure the financial stability of a country. Harper may have been given a surplus from Martin/Chretien, but as before with the USA going into the abyss, there was little hope for us. Harper kept us from going through the same mess. The real reason Canada did so well 2008, is Chretien/Martin kept the Canadian banks from accessing the American banking system’s ponzi scheme. The question is… does Trudeau or his finance minister even grasp this? How do they expect Canadians to pay their bills?

  12. Very true. Trudeau’s not exactly to the taste of logophiles, but his apology is as complete as it is consistent, through his physicality (the picture above). Let’s move on.

  13. According to two polls reported at National Newswatch,Nanos,and Abacus, Justin Trudeau’s popularity with the public has actually gone UP since the aforementioned incident.

    It is going to take a lot more than this to wreak havoc on the public’s love of Trudeau. There are also several articles at NN mentioning that only the media,who have essentially been JT’s swooning fan club, are concerned about this incident, and again are out of touch with the average Canadian on this issue.

    • The media have been driving the criticism of Trudeau over this whole issue. I do not suggest they are wrong in that, but if you truly believe they are swooning over him, then you must not be following the news.

      • The media had an issue over bill 6 as should every Canadian.

  14. The shine is starting to fade. This article tries to put lipstick on the pig. Please point to the results of his government since January 1, 2016. His budget is not even close. The actual figures are in question whether there was a deficit or surplus. The economy is shrinking. The GDP numbers will be in question due to the fire In Alberta. Ontario is not going to rebound to the heady days of the 60’s , 70’s , 80’s. Quebec industries are mired in corruption and economic failure. The end result of all this needed attention,,, He signs a climate change agreement that will never happen unless he destroys the Canadian economy. His plate is FULL. LOL. Looking forward to the Oct 19 anniversary.

  15. Good for Trudeau for intervening on the floor to promote orderly voting by members.

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