Excuse me for a moment while I quarter a flogged horse.
May played host to the Parliamentary incident of 2016 when Justin Trudeau tried unsuccessfully to leave an elbow-sized crater in the chest of NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. The fearless and honourable Brosseau managed to escape the hit-and-vote with minimal injuries.
The aftermath featured personal attacks on Brosseau, a rosary’s worth of apologies from Trudeau, and hilariously over-the-top feminist and anti-feminist pieces on the travesty of the Prime Minister striking a woman. In the end, most outlets focused on how overblown the entire thing was, how JT barely made contact with the Italian-soccer-team hopeful, and how everyone who miraculously isn’t a staunch supporter of the junior Trudeau is desperately searching for anything to poke a hole in his sails. In short, even though many articles were painting him as a brief villain, they were really making out our infallible leader to be the victim. Remarkable what a lack of grey hair can do for someone in politics.
But what has been missed in all of this is that the main point is Trudeau displayed a remarkable lack of composure in losing his temper on the floor. The elbow in and of itself as an action is relatively irrelevant; what matters is a clearly agitated Trudeau believing that any degree of physicality was appropriate in the House of Commons. He was heard telling members to, “Get the fuck out of my way,” en route to grabbing the arm of the Conservative Whip, who told Trudeau to get his hands off of him. Trudeau’s words were perhaps better suited to a schoolyard brawl than a Parliamentary vote amongst the country’s representatives. Suddenly the “youthful” moniker that has been the prime reason for T2’s popularity sways dangerously close to the very similar “immature” label. This is Canada’s PM—for all intents and purposes, the face we present to the rest of the world.
Supporters of Big Red are quick to point out that the Opposition was clearly stalling, but this only brings to attention how little the average member of the public knows about government. Politics are a game, and nothing on display that day was any different from the usual bag of tricks. Prolonged clapping and milling about on the floor have been around since Confederation. “Wasn’t he just trying to move things along?” Sure, but when was the last time you saw someone need to physically lay hands on another person to finish a vote? It’s undignified and uncalled for. And what have the Liberals been saying all along about their hopes for Parliament? Something about it being more civil so there could be more real debate? If everything supposedly starts at the top, Trudeau dropped a heavy ball for his party to catch.