It started as an incident. Then it became a kerfuffle, before rocketing right past an affront on its way to a criminal assault and ultimately, according to the NDP, violence against women.
The thrilla on the hilla, the rumble of the humble, the melee of the members: call it what you will, according to many MPs it will be a day that will live in infamy.
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That day when parliamentary shenanigans ultimately led a hot-headed prime minister to, well, move someone along who was being blocked. In terms of legislative smack downs, it’s pretty tame. Think of the all out brawls in Taiwan or the Philippines, but this one is all ours.
In the Canadian Parliament, it’s all fun and games until someone loses his temper.
Some of the fuel for this is the authenticity of the anger, because most outrage in the House of Commons is summoned from a deep well of feigned hurt. It’s the sort posturing that led former Prime Minister John Turner to refer to question period as “b-llsh-t theatre.”
Contrived emotion is more often used to advance political advantage, by either painting your opponent as heartless and cruel (outrage, anger), or hopelessly incompetent (sad disappointment).
READ MORE: A history of Canadian politicians behaving badly
It turns out that in the case of the prime ministerial overreach, all are being put into service.
Sombre opposition MPs have risen in their places, ashen-faced, to lament this assault on democracy.
One Conservative MP, Mel Arnold, shook his head in sad disappointment, as he worried about the effect on the country of Justin Trudeau’s facial expressions. Apparently his raised eyebrow can have devastating effects.
This rending of cloth all stemmed, of course, from what happened on the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday night.
To fully understand what happened, it’s best to remind yourself of what it was like in Grade 4. With that in mind, and with apologies to everyone currently in Grade Four, let’s examine.
It started, as the video clearly shows, when NDP leader Tom Mulcair and a few other NDP MPs formed a line to block the path of the Conservative whip, who was on his way to his seat for a vote.
It was a form of protest. The government wanted the vote to limit debate on the medically-assisted death bill, and the opposition didn’t like that. Blocking someone’s ability to get to his seat meant delaying the vote, albeit by a mere minute or two.
But that was a minute too long for Justin Trudeau, who flew into a rage and crossed the floor to “rescue” the hapless Conservative from the NDP bullies.
There were just a few problems with that.
The Conservative didn’t feel the need to be rescued, and was, in fact, pretty peeved about it.
So were the NDP blockers, one of whom got side-swiped by the prime ministerial arm, or was physically molested if you buy the wording of the motion of privilege in the House of Commons.
That was pretty much it, except for the encore of a hollering, gesticulating Tom Mulcair as he came nose-to-nose with Trudeau.
READ MORE: ‘Elbowgate’: What caused it and why it was an unnecessary kerfuffle
No one of any reason would say it’s acceptable for anyone to physically interfere with someone else.
Mulcair should be above what he did and Trudeau should be ashamed of what he did.
But the anger, outrage, and yes, sad disappointment was more about a tussle over rules of debate than the rules of combat, and it worked.
The draconian measure, with the suitably ominous name of “Motion 6,” was withdrawn by the government, thus giving back to the opposition most of the tools it needs to hold the government to account, or, if you wish, to gum up the works.
It was an odd way to get there. Motion 6 should never have been on the table. MPs shouldn’t have been blocking or shoving other MPs. And everyone should have been spending their time debating the bill on medically-assisted dying.
So while hardly eligible for a mixed martial arts ranking, this kerfuffle is as close to chaos as Canada gets.
The opposition won their point, and the prime minister probably walks away without injury to his political brand.
But this great Canadian scandal has ended in a most Canadian way, with a lot of people, mainly the prime minister, saying sorry.
He is probably sadly disappointed.