What on earth was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinking yesterday afternoon?
In a moment that since has made international headlines, Trudeau is now accused of “manhandling” Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Gord Brown and elbowing New Democrat Party (NDP) MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest — a moment, she later said, so “overwhelming” that she ended up missing the vote on the controversial bill C-14, Canada’s bill on doctor-assisted suicide, according to Fox News.
The anger on Trudeau’s face was apparent as he approached the throng of MPs, and according to CBC News, Trudeau also used inappropriate language when he approached the opposition benches.
“He said ‘Get the bleep out of the way,'” she said, adding that Trudeau “violently” grabbed Brown.
According to Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Trudeau appeared genuinely contrite when he realized he’d elbowed Brosseau, which was the “most emotional” contact throughout the incident.
“I saw the prime minister approaching and following the honorable member, trying to reach her and saying how very sorry he was,” May said. “He had not seen her behind him.”
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair immediately took Trudeau to task for elbowing Brosseau.
“What kind of man elbows a woman? It’s pathetic! You’re pathetic!” Mulcair can be heard shouting on the tape, which showed him pointing at Trudeau as he shouted.
While it was quite a physical moment in Canada’s House of Commons, it actually wasn’t even among the top physical altercations in global politics. The Washington Post reports that in December 2015, a Ukrainian member of parliament from President Petro Poroshenko’s political bloc, Oleh Barna, hoisted Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the podium by his crotch only moments after giving Yatsenyuk a bouquet of roses.
While Trudeau did not get as physical as members of the Ukraine parliament did, what is clear is that he has won himself no fans as a result of his actions. He later admitted that he acted as he did because he felt that Brown was perhaps moving too slowly back to his seat so that the House of Commons could proceed with the vote on Bill C-14.
We’ve all been Trudeau’s enablers: the boxing pics, the yoga pose, the pushups. All that oohing & aahing over his virility went to his head.— Andrew Coyne (@acoyne) May 19, 2016
MP Niki Ashton calls pushing incident with Justin Trudeau ‘unacceptable’ https://t.co/L2yASLMMBL
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) May 18, 2016
May also tweeted that the House of Commons had experienced a “very bad day.”
Things are very very bad in the House. Nearly a physical altercation between Mulcair and Trudeau. #cdnpoli— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) May 18, 2016
For his part, Trudeau attempted to make amends for his actions, which several in the House of Commons deemed “unacceptable.”
“I want to take the opportunity … to be able to express directly to [Brosseau] my apologies for my behaviour and my actions, unreservedly. The fact is, in this situation, where I saw… I noticed that the whip opposite was being impeded in his progress, I took it upon myself to go and assist him forward, which I can now see was unadvisable as a course of actions that resulted in physical contact in this House that we can all accept was unacceptable,” he said.
Fox News reported that Conservative MP Andrew Scheer was sitting across from Trudeau in the moments leading up to the melee. Scheer said that it was very clear that the Canadian prime minister had lost his temper, which prompted his walk and efforts to steer Brown away from the throng of assembled MPs.
Conservative Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose also weighed in on Trudeau’s behavior, saying that Canada’s leader should be “ashamed” of what transpired, and fellow Conservative MP Peter Van Loan noted that Trudeau’s behavior was a clear example of “physical intimidation.”
Trudeau also acknowledged that he was continuing to look for ways to atone for his actions, but NDP MP Niki Ashton noted that his physicality, regardless of intent, could be a spark that would cause the women of the House of Commons to perhaps question their safety.
— CBC News (@CBCNews) May 20, 2016
“What I will say, if we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that young women in this space feel safe to come here and work here,” she said of what Trudeau did in steering Brown away and in accidentally elbowing Brosseau. “He made us feel unsafe and we’re deeply troubled by the conduct of the prime minister of this country.”
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]