Unparliamentary double standard

The last thing I wanted to focus on in my report this week was the events that occurred in the House of Commons on Tuesday, April 30th, when the Speaker of the House removed the Official Leader of the Opposition from the question period.

My motivation for writing about this topic stems from my concern that Canadians, based on media reports I heard , may not be hearing both sides on the issue.

I believe in accountability and think that citizens should be informed about the proceedings of our Canadian Parliament.

You might have heard that the Speaker expelled the Leader of the Official Opposition for calling Prime Minister Trudeau a “wacko”. Some news organizations have subsequently reported this as “unparliamentary language”.

Firstly, allow me to quote verbatim from Hansard the exact words the Leader of the Official Opposition said to Prime Minister Trudeau:

“Mr. Speaker, it is a choice for the Prime Minister to implement extremist policies that have taken the lives of 2,500 British Columbians every single year. Since the B.C. NDP has asked him to reverse course on his and formerly the NDP’s radical decriminalization policy, 22 British Columbians have died of drug overdoses, but he continues to allow those drugs to kill the people in our hospitals and on our public transit. When will we put an end to this wacko policy by the wacko Prime Minister?”

For context, the Oxford Learning Dictionary defines the word “wacko” as “crazy; not sensible”.

It should be noted that the term “wacko” has been used in the House of Commons before. Prior to yesterday, it had been used more than twenty times by various Liberal, NDP, and Conservative Members of Parliament. Until yesterday, the term had never been deemed “un-parliamentary.”

For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve never used this term before.

The Speaker, Liberal MP Greg Fergus, asked the Leader of the Official Opposition to retract the word. After a back-and-forth in which the Leader of the Official Opposition offered to use alternative words such as “radical” or “extremist”, the final comment from them to the Speaker was, “Mr. Speaker, I simply withdraw it and replace it with the aforementioned adjective.”

Subsequently, the Speaker ordered the Leader of the Official Opposition to leave the House, sparking the news stories.

Prime Minister Trudeau was vocal in the question period. He accused the Leader of the Official Opposition of “showing us exactly what shameful, spineless leadership looks like.” He also claimed that the Opposition Leader was courting the support of a “far-right, white nationalist group” that, according to Prime Minister Trudeau, promotes violence against Canadians.

Despite “wacko” being an accepted term in the long-standing history of the House of Commons, only the Leader of the Official Opposition was asked by the Speaker to withdraw his comment.

This prompted a reaction from many Conservative MPs who perceive a double standard in the House of Commons. They believe there is one set of rules for the prime minister and another for the Official Opposition. In protest against this perceived bias, most Conservative MPs, including myself, walked out of question period.

For those of you who think this is simply Conservative MP’s crying sour grapes, I would like you to consider the words of former NDP and Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair who stated, “Never in my career have I seen such, in my view, blatant partisanship from a Speaker” further stating “Fergus should do the right thing and step down”

This leads to my question for you this week:

Do you agree with former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in that Speaker Greg Fergus should resign due to partisanship? Why or why not? I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.