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‘Elbowgate’: Canada’s Trudeau Comes Under Attack for ‘Bully Behavior’

© REUTERS / Chris WattieCanada's Liberal leader and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, October 20, 2015
Canada's Liberal leader and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, October 20, 2015 - Sputnik International
The Canadian House of Commons -- and later the Twitterverse -- found itself in an uproar on Wednesday when, after grabbing Opposition Whip Gord Brown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inadvertently elbowed Parliament Member Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who was standing in the aisle with Brown discussing a physician-assisted-death bill with other MPs.

In video footage of the meeting, emotions were clearly high after liberal MPs stopped the debate before voting on the bill. Brosseau is visibly upset and clutches her chest before walking out of the frame. When Trudeau returns to the scene of the incident, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader John Mulcair shouts at him, "What kind of man elbows a woman? It's pathetic! You're pathetic!"

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MP David Sweet tweeted: “I have never seen a display of bully behaviour by a Canadian politician, let alone a Prime Minister, as I witnessed just now in the Chamber.”

In a written statement released to Canadian media after the incident, Brown said that he “was trying to start the vote, the Prime Minister grabbed my arm. I immediately told the Prime Minister to let go of me — now."

“Immediately afterward, the Prime Minister went back down the aisle of the House to confront other members of opposition parties."


Brown added that the implications of this confrontation are more political than personal.

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"This isn't about me, it's about the Liberal Party's lack of respect for Parliament, and its unilateral attempts to take control of the House of Commons, which set off tonight's events," Brown stated.

Linda Duncan, another NDP MP, echoed Brown’s sentiments on what has now become known as “Elbowgate.”

“[Trudeau] apologized for his physical assault but he’s not apologized for the assault on our rights and privileges.” 

“I was standing in the center talking to some colleagues, I was elbowed in the chest by the Prime Minister, and then I had to leave,” Brosseau said, returning to the Commons after the vote.

Before taking her seat, she said, “It was very overwhelming. I left the chamber to go and sit in the lobby, I missed the vote because of this. I just wanted to clarify and make sure it’s clear to all the members of the House that that did happen.”

Amidst vocal disapproval from conservative House Members, Trudeau apologized to Brosseau before the chamber, saying "I want to take the opportunity … to be able to express directly to her my apologies for my behaviour and my actions, unreservedly. The fact is, in this situation… 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 action that resulted in physical contact in this House that we can all accept was unacceptable."

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On Thursday morning, with controversy around the incident still swirling, Trudeau apologized for a third time, saying, "I apologize to my colleagues, to the House as a whole and to you, Mr. Speaker, for failing to live up to a higher standard of behaviour. Members, rightfully, expect better behaviour from anyone in this House. I expect better behaviour of myself."

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