Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised “unreservedly” for making physical contact with a female opposition member of Parliament who said Trudeau elbowed her in the chest as he waded through a group of mostly opposition lawmakers.
Opposition lawmaker Ruth Ellen Brosseau said she was elbowed in the chest and had to leave the House of Commons chamber on Wednesday.
“I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister and then I had to leave. It was very overwhelming,” she said. “I missed the vote because of this.”
Footage from the House of Commons television feed shows Trudeau wading into a clutch of lawmakers, mostly opposition members, and pulling a lawmaker through the crowd in order to get the vote started. As Trudeau turns around to pull the lawmaker through, Brosseau can be seen reacting in pain.
Trudeau, a boxer and former bar bouncer, later stood up in Parliament and said it wasn’t his intention to hurt anyone as he attempted to escort the lawmaker though a throng of opposition lawmakers in the chamber. Trudeau said he thought the man was being impeded as he walked up the aisle of the chamber and wanted to help him.
“I took it upon myself to go and assist him forward, which was I now see inadvisable as a course of action,” said Trudeau, who characterised his actions as “unacceptable.”
“I apologise for that unreservedly and I look for opportunities to make amends,” he said.
Opposition New Democrat lawmaker Peter Julian called it a “pretty violent push” and said he had never seen such behaviour in his 12 years in Parliament.
“Physical force in this House is never permitted,” he said. Opposition Conservative Andrew Scheer said he was sitting across from Trudeau and said it was clear he lost his temper.
“He was motivated by anger and lost his temper,” Scheer said. “It is very, very unfortunate. We had a member of Parliament that wasn’t able to vote.”
Opposition New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair later screamed at Trudeau “What kind of man elbows a woman!?” in the chamber before lawmakers intervened to make sure things didn’t escalate.
Tempers have been running high as the government pushes through a motion to limit debate on its euthanasia legislation.