The House of Commons appeared to be in utter chaos Wednesday, with the prime minister at the centre of the melee.
Justin Trudeau was accused of “manhandling” the Conservative whip and elbowing NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau on the floor of the House of Commons just prior to a vote on controversial assisted-dying legislation, Bill C-14.
“I was standing in the centre talking to some colleagues,” Brosseau told the House after calm was restored. “I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister and then I had to leave.
“It was very overwhelming and so I left the chamber to go and sit in the lobby. I missed the vote because of this.”
Footage from the Commons television feed showed Trudeau wading into a clutch of MPs, mostly New Democrats, and pulling Opposition whip Gordon Brown through the crowd in an effort to get the vote started – a no-no in parliamentary procedure.
“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 said afterwards.
Trudeau says he was just trying to help the Conservative party whip through a throng of MPs prior to the vote and insists he never intended to hurt anyone.
At one point shortly thereafter, Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair were in a face-to-face shouting match.
“I have never seen anything like it,” NDP MP Niki Ashton said on Twitter. “I witnessed the PM push one of my colleagues into my desk in the House of Commons.”
Conservative MP David Sweet said the prime minister behaved like a bully.
Trudeau apologized after the incident
“I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm,” Trudeau said. “I did not intend to offend or impact on anyone.”
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for his ‘behaviour’
“I apologize for that unreservedly,” Trudeau said shortly after.
“I take responsibility.”
The incident had the Commons in an uproar as MPs shouted and pounded their desks.
“People would call what happened here assault,” Ashton said.
“Trudeau’s actions weren’t very feminist,” she added.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May asked for calm.
“What we saw was unacceptable, but let’s keep perspective,” said May, adding Trudeau was trying to move along the vote.
“It was innocent mischief,” she said, to vocal objections from her fellow MPs.
WATCH: House of Commons elbowing incident caught on camera
May continued to defend Trudeau, saying Trudeau did not realize Brosseau was behind him as he made contact.
NDP MP Peter Julian says whether or not the contact was intended, it is inappropriate.
“I would hope that all members would…join together to say physical confrontation…is unacceptable in this place and anywhere across this country,” said Julian.
“Clearly this was not an environment of respect,” said Opposition House Leader Andrew Scheer to reporters outside the Commons.
“I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Brosseau, who left after the incident, would likely not be making comment Wednesday Julian said.
“It was a pretty violent push,” Julian said, adding physical contact in the House is not the “Canadian way.”
“It was disgraceful.”
With files from Canadian Press
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