Stuff Still Happens, week 20: A very Canadian ‘outrage’

Chaos in the Commons! Hell in the House! Kerfuffle in the Kommons! Parliamentary punch-up! Broohaha! Shenanigans! Other old words nobody ever uses anymore!

By now, you have no doubt heard of the incident in the House of Commons where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau grabbed Conservative party whip Gordon Brown by the arm to “escort” him to his seat (one NDP MP claims Trudeau swore “Get the fuck out of the way” after grabbing Brown) and in doing so accidentally elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the … well … chest. Trudeau then exchanged bon mots with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. Here’s a remarkably detailed analysis of the whole silly incident.

The whole set-to erupted due to opposition attempts to slow down the government’s assisted dying law.  (Assisted dying legislation is being pushed through the House of Commons with unseemly haste. This is, after all, a matter of life and death, so shouldn’t they be taking more time? Apparently, they can’t, because the Supreme Court set a deadline for an assisted dying law to be passed. But what would happen if the government misses the deadline? What would the Supreme Court do? Fine the government? Give them a stern rebuke? If there is no assisted dying law in place, so what? We have no abortion law in place, and somehow society continues. Sorry for the aside … now, back to our topic.) Trudeau apparently took umbrage with the slowdown actions, which included Brown being blocked (and not making a real effort to get past) from going to his seat by giggling NDP MPs. Almost as ridiculous was Brosseau’s soccer-like dive to the Trudeau elbow; she left the chamber calling the whole incident “traumatic”. (I wonder if Gordie Howe is watching that clip somewhere and saying, “You call that an elbow?”) Trudeau apologized again and again (he is a Canadian politician, after all) but the opposition just kept piling it on.

Clearly, Trudeau lost it. He showed a side of himself that he has kept from the public — angry, petulant, maybe a little bit spoiled. While Trudeau remains a social media superstar and a hero to liberals everywhere (he just made an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, not that anyone watches that show now that Jon Stewart has retired), boring old governance has been a bit of a challenge for him. Trudeau, a man accustomed to physicality (he was a bouncer and he likes to box) took action. It’s jut that it wasn’t smart action. Trudeau is clearly, unquestionably, in the wrong. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But the opposition deserves blame as well. Their actions were childish, and the reaction so over-the-top that they’ve lost the moral high ground. ‘Elbowgate’ (yes, some idiots have taken to calling it Elbowgate) was so fleeting, it barely qualified as an incident. But the NDP in particular reacted with ludicrous outrage, saying they were “enraged” and “shocked”, using terms like “criminal assault” and “molestation”. One particularly stupid NDP MP, Niki Ashton, said she no longer feels safe in the House of Commons. From what I’ve seen, the public reaction to the NDP is almost as negative as the reaction to Trudeau. A Facebook friend, a lifelong NDP supporter, said for the first time he was ashamed to be an NDPer.

And as for Trudeau, well, as they always say about children … he’s young, he’ll learn.

Meanwhile, in the real world …

An EgyptAir jet with 66 people on board vanished from radar on Thursday. Debris from the plane was found on Friday. The exact cause of the crash is unknown, but terrorism is always suspected; evidence indicates there was smoke on the plane before the crash. Noted aviation expert Donald Trump immediately said they plane was “blown from the sky”.

Senate ‘scandal’ ends with a whimper

After THREE YEARS of investigation, the RCMP decided not to lay charges against Senator Pamela Wallin in the so-called senate expense scandal. When Senator Mike Duffy being found not guilty in his highly-publicized trial, the whole ‘scandal’ proved to be nothing of the sort. That’s the thing about Canada. Our political brawls are little more than schoolyard spats, and our scandals result in everybody walking away uncharged, and unscathed. No wonder everybody thinks Canada is boring.


Morley Safer, 84, the Canadian-born, 60 Minutes correspondent who just retired last week after after 46 years and 919 reports. Safer was one of the most respected journalists of his era, the first to bring the horrors of the Vietnam war into American living rooms. One of the true greats of journalism … Madeleine Lebeau, 92, believe to be the last surviving member of the cast of Casablanca. She didn’t have a huge part, but she was central to one of the film’s many great scenes. She’s the woman who passionately sings The Marseillaise to counter a song being sung by German soldiers. She was 19 at the time … Guy Clark, 74, much admired folk singer-songwriter (“Desperados Waiting for a Train”) … Alan Young, 92, whose acting claim to fame was being the straight man to a talking horse — yes, a talking horse — in the 1960s sitcom, Mr. Ed.


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

1 comment

  1. I think Michael Enright said it best this morning on CBC’s Sunday Edition – “You can usually weigh the serious or silly elements of a political scandal by the time it takes the media to apply the word “gate” to it. The shorter the length of time, the sillier the scandal”.

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