Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod says she was absolutely flabbergasted when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caused a ruckus on the floor of the House of Commons on May 18.
McLeod, who sits directly across the House from the Prime Minister, says she saw him “stride across the aisle” and “he looked very angry.”
“It was totally inappropriate and a complete breach of parliamentary protocol. Sometimes there are testy words, but I have never seen that kind of physical interaction.”
Noting it’s the House Speaker’s job to make sure people are ready to vote, the local MP says there wasn’t much of a delay.
“I hadn’t noticed the delay in the terms of a timeframe. From the time bells stop ringing and when we actually vote, there is usually a few minutes.
“For that kind of a strong reaction for what was not really much of a delay, it was very surprising.”
Normally, both the Government and the Opposition Whips proceed down the aisle and take their seats before the vote proceeds. However, parliamentary rules state only one whip has to be seated before voting can begin.
Noting she couldn’t see what was happening directly and only saw the video later, McLeod says there were a few NDP MPs blocking Opposition Whip Gordon Brown from walking down the aisle with Government Whip Grant Mitchell.
“[Trudeau] actually grabbed [Brown] and reportedly swore at the NDP members who were blocking him.”
McLeod says Trudeau made incidental contact with NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. The Prime Minister accidentally elbowed her in the chest.
“Certainly, it was incidental contact but he had no business being over there and grabbing the Opposition Whip.”
As far as consequences go, the local MP says the Speaker found it a prima facie breach of privilege, so Trudeau breached the privilege of other parliamentarians, and now it goes to a committee for review.
“It is a Liberal-dominated committee, so I don’t anticipate there will be much in terms of consequences. It would likely be a different matter if they had become a minority government.”
McLeod says the Liberals were trying to limit the debate on Bill C-14 (Doctor-assisted dying legislation) by moving for closure on the debate.
“C-14 is a very critical bill. We had anticipated we were going to be speaking on it on Monday and Tuesday [May 16-17], but we didn’t [get a chance to discuss it]. Wednesday is only a half day, but they moved closure on it, and it would have only allowed one speech before it went to third reading.
“With a matter of conscience, most MPs want the opportunity to speak to it at some stage. So far, only one-quarter to one-third of the parliamentarians have had any opportunity to speak to it.
“It’s a free vote, a matter of conscience, a matter of how you’re going to represent your constituents and how you’re going to explain to your constituents how you’re voting on it and what your concerns are.
“To cut off debate on that particular bill when the Monday and Tuesday could have been used for debate certainly raised the temperature, along with other measures, but really it was the Opposition that was angry with some of the hard-handed tactics [of the Liberals].”