Justin Trudeau apologises for elbowing MP

  • 20/05/2016
Justin Trudeau apologises for elbowing MP

By David Ljunggren

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for a third time for manhandling an opposition legislator and accidentally elbowing another in parliament and said he would accept any punishment meted out by a committee examining the incident.

The affair is the most serious blow yet to the image of Trudeau, who led his Liberals to power last October with a promise of "sunny ways."

Trudeau, 44, is in no immediate political danger since the next election is not due until October 2019 and opinion polls put him far ahead of his rivals.

The special committee of legislators could in theory find him in contempt of Parliament, thereby potentially triggering a vote of confidence which he would easily win given the Liberals majority in Parliament.

"It was my mistake, it was unbecoming of any member of this House. I expect better from myself," a contrite Trudeau told the legislature on Thursday (local time), saying he wanted to make amends.

"I wield full responsibility for my poor choices last night and I ask for Canadians' understanding and forgiveness."

During preparations for a Wednesday evening vote, Trudeau, irritated by what he saw as delaying tactics by the opposition, strode across the floor and grabbed a legislator by the arm before pushing him towards his seat.

In the process, he accidentally elbowed a female legislator in the chest and later got into a heated exchange with an opposition leader.

The incident, while mild compared to the brawls between legislators in Taiwan, Japan and Ukraine, was rare in Canadian politics.

Photos of the fracas were splashed across front pages with unflattering headlines such as "Mad House" and "Hair Trigger", and gleefully dissected on Twitter with the hashtag #elbowgate.

Rona Ambrose, the leader of the official opposition Conservative Party, said the incident was troubling.

"We started this parliament with the promise of 'sunny ways,' but what we've seen in particular in the last few weeks is the furthest thing from that," she told the chamber.