Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised after he was accused of elbowing a female legislator during a chaotic exchange in the House of Commons that quickly devolved into a shouting match.
The lawmakers were on the verge of a vote concerning the government’s assisted-dying bill when the incident happened Wednesday evening.
Video footage shows several members of the country’s New Democratic Party (NDP) standing in the way of Gord Brown, the whip for the Conservative Party.
Trudeau is then seen striding down the floor to grasp Brown by the arm — a move that one lawmaker later called “manhandling” — while elbowing NDP politician Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair can later be heard yelling, “What kind of man elbows a woman? It’s pathetic! You’re pathetic!”
Trudeau later said he took full responsibility for the “unacceptable” incident, the CBC reported.
“I want to take the opportunity … to be able to express directly to [Brosseau] my apologies for my behaviour and my actions, unreservedly,” he said.
“I noticed 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 actions that resulted in physical contact in this House that we can all accept was unacceptable.”
Ruth-Ellen Brasseau “I was elbowed in the chest by the Prime Minister.”
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) May 18, 2016
“Outside, people would call what happened here assault,” says Niki Ashton.
— Justin Ling (@Justin_Ling) May 18, 2016
Lawmakers later appeared split on whether the elbowing was intentional or accidental.
Peter Van Loan, a Conservative Member of Parliament, called it an “extraordinary example of physical intimidation.” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said it appeared unintentional, but “unwise.”
“I saw the Prime Minister approaching and following the honorable member, trying to reach her and saying how very sorry he was, he had not seen her behind him,” May said.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Geoff Regan, chastised Trudeau for the incident and said Brosseau’s privileges as a Member of Parliament had been breached, Reuters reported. The encounter will be examined by an all-party committee.
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