Parliamentary ruckus raises far thornier questions
Perceptions by Gerry warner
Things looked anything but “sunny” in Parliament Wednesday when Mr. Sunny Ways himself, otherwise known as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rushed more than two sword lengths across the floor and created a melee with opposition MP’s that almost led to fisticuffs.
And just ask suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau, Trudeau can punch!
Fortunately, it didn’t quite lead to that, but it did lead to NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau leaving the parliamentary chamber to recover from an accidental blow from Trudeau’s sharp elbow not to mention his use of the F-bomb and a hysterical screaming match between Trudeau and former Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, who looked like he was going to burst a blood vessel while the media pundits dubbed the whole tawdry affair “elbow-gate!”
What the hell was going on in the citadel of Canadian democracy? Not even Donald Trump has physically attacked anyone recently.
To understand this, we have to back up a bit to Monday when the Opposition engaged in some political chicanery that saw them come within one vote of defeating a majority Liberal government on a snap procedural motion, which embarrassed the mighty Grits profoundly. Consequently, the chastened Liberals were in a sour mood Wednesday when it appeared that some Opposition MP’s were doing the same thing again Wednesday making it difficult for Conservative
whip Gordon Brown to take his seat and continue debate on Bill C-14, the government’s highly controversial legislation on doctor-assisted death.
Glancing across the floor from his seat on high, Trudeau’s imperious gaze settled on the Opposition’s sneaky tactic and he clearly lost it, leaving his throne and striding across the floor like an NHL goon about to batter his opponent over the boards provoking a most un-parliamentary ruckus the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Ottawa for decades, if ever. Since the dust settled, a contrite Trudeau has officially apologized three times for his bizarre outburst and sent tongues wagging from St. Johns to Whitehorse.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Clearly even Prime Ministers have bad-hair days, even one with the glorious locks of Justin Trudeau! However, on a more serious level, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have now seen the spectacle of our Prime Minister lose his temper on live TV – and even more importantly – lose control of himself on live TV and physically assault a fellow MP, a woman at that, even if it was accidental.
Sunny ways? Hardly, but to be fair to the Prime Minister his apologies appear to be genuine and the Opposition appears to have played a role in goading his attack. No one is asking Trudeau to resign, nor should they. Everyone loses it once in a while and a prime minister is no different. And in the greater scheme of things, the voters of Canada will pass judgement on Trudeau in the next election whether it be by first past the post or some newfangled voting system.
But there’s another aspect of this situation that needs to be mentioned. The backdrop to this nasty affair is the government’s proposed bill to make physician-assisted death, or suicide if you prefer, the law of the land and that issue is absolutely toxic and deeply divides Canadians. You might also say the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada can impose a deadline on Parliamentarians to do this is also a factor, but I’ll leave that to the Constitutional experts.
It surely goes without saying that reaching a consensus on an issue as profoundly personal, spiritual and philosophical as this is impossible. It’s just not going to happen. In light of this, one can’t help but wonder why we are doing this at all? It’s true that it has been done in other jurisdictions like Holland and Oregon, but like it or not, it doesn’t seem to be flying in Canada.
As trite as this may sound, perhaps the best thing would be for the government to withdraw the bill and send it to an all-party committee and let them have a go at it. They may not reach a consensus either, but it’s worth a try. Otherwise the alternative appears to be more pushing and shoving on the floor of Parliament and I doubt if even “Rocky” Trudeau would want that?
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who does favor some form of physician assisted life secession.