Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you can depend on our political class to present us with a whole new level of entertainment. Starring in this week’s extravanganza was our own local Member of Parliament, Gord Brown, who enjoyed a close encounter with the Prime Minister on the floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa. And what a fuss was made of it! What a deafening roar of righteous indignation from all sides of the House, the media and anyone else who felt like being offended by this storm in a teacup.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the video footage of what actually happened, but it is well worth seeing. It all began with the members slowly returning to their seats to vote on allocating time for debate on Bill C14, the Assisted dying bill. The NDP had gathered in a block (bloc?) between their seats and a table standing in the middle of the floor of the House, and poor Gord Brown was trying to get past them to reach his seat. The block blocked his progress, apparently, and he tried to find a gap in the wall of MPs, rather like an actor trying to find the gap in the stage curtain so he could perform for the audience.
To be honest, it really looked as if Gord was enjoying the pantomime, because, for a hockey player, he seemed to forget he had elbows, or a voice, or an alternative way around the bloc. In fact, there was an entirely empty half of the floor he could have used instead of trying to break through the pink wall. His dilemma was clear to other members, as they bowed to the Speaker and turned to see how Gord was getting on.
As he tried in vain, though with little real determination, to push through, his situation was brought to the attention of the Head Prefect (sorry, the Prime Minister), who strode purposefully to his rescue. Reaching through the pink wall, Justin took Gord by the elbow, almost like an older brother rescuing his bullied young sibling, and brought him safely through. Now Justin may have meant well and only had Gord’s best interests at heart, but his action did not go down well with the NDP (or with Gord, who seemed to be embarrassed that the Head Prefect had to come to his rescue.
He seemed torn between getting on with business, bowing formally to the Speaker, and appealing to his PC colleagues to rebuke Justin for his temerity. Gord later said: “I told him quite clearly to get his hands off of me”. It must have been hard for the hockey player to be rescued by a man so many had dismissed as a wimp in the past.
The NDP, true to their roots, became positively apoplectic with righteous rage at the brutal violence inflicted by the PM on their bloc, especially as his elbow had come into contact with the chest of one of their female MP’s. She, Ruth Ellen Brosseau by name, acted like a soccer player who had felt an opponent brush against him, grabbing her bruised self and (to be perfectly honest) overacting as only an MP can.
Tom Mulcaire then went into full righteous fury, shouting at the PM when he returned to apologise to Ruth Brousseau. The video shows Tom laughing at Gord Brown at first, then, after talking briefly to Brousseau, he launched into his attack on Justin, apparently without having seen the original collision between the two of them. He had to be held back by his party colleagues, as Justin returned to his seat.
It was such an entertaining moment that some MPs got out their iPads and started photographing the scene, until the Speaker had to remind them that “no photographs allowed”. Tom Mulcaire, with an interesting sense of perspective, described the event as a physical assault on Brosseau, and “unparalleled” in Canadian history. Seriously.
Now, coming from members of the House of Commons, which often makes a Kindergarten class look mature and intelligent, this entire overwrought reaction to a minor issue is ludicrous. Should Justin have interfered as he did? Probably not. But he apologised without reservation, and the video clearly shows that his contact with Brosseau was not deliberate, or even noticed by most people at the time.
It just seems that a bunch of people who insist on behaving like spoiled children, or college students on a drunken Spring break in Florida, don’t have much credibility when they start waxing righteous because someone spoilt their fun. The NDP were playing games in the House. Gord Brown was far from innocent in playing along with them for his own reasons. Justin Trudeau displayed some of his famous heritage in thinking it was his job to put things right. Given the fact that behaviour in the House has actually been improving since he took office, it seems a shame that he would be the cause of a return to the bad old days of juvenile posturing. And we elected those people!
For those wanting to view the fun and games: http://www.cpac.ca/en/programs/house-of-commons/episodes/47658712/