Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized in Parliament Wednesday after a female member of the opposition accused him of elbowing her in the chest. Trudeau, 44, was reportedly making his way through a group of opposition members in order to advance legislative proceedings when the incident is said to have occurred.
According to AP, the opposition lawmaker, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, claimed that she had to leave the House of Commons chamber 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."
Trudeau later stood up in Parliament and said it wasn't his intention to hurt anyone as he attempted to escort another lawmaker, who he thought was being stalled, to his place in an attempt to speed up the vote.
"I admit I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm to (the Conservative legislator), including someone behind me who I did not see," Trudeau said, adding, "I apologize for that unreservedly and I look for opportunities to make amends."
The outburst was reportedly unusual for the Canadian Parliament and the incident was termed a “rare loss of control by the telegenic Trudeau” by Reuters.
Members of the Parliament are divided in their views on this issue.
The Opposition was united in its criticism of Trudeau and New Democrat leader Thomas Muclair, according to AP, shouted at the prime minister, saying, “What kind of man elbows a woman?” before the cabinet bench intervened, keeping the matter from escalating.
Some leaders, however, suggested that the opposition may have been trying to delay the vote. According to Green Party leader Elizabeth May, "It was most unwise of the prime minister to attempt to move along the vote. But the second contact with my friend (Brosseau), which is certainly the one that was the most emotional for the member involved, was clearly, from my perspective ... unintentional." As reported by AP, she also added, "He had not seen her behind him. That is the truth. Now you can like it or not like it."
Trudeau reportedly said, "I now see (that was) an unadvisable course of action and resulted in physical contact in this house that we can all accept was unacceptable.”
Speaker Geoff Regan, according to AP, recognized that Brosseau’s privileges as Member of Parliament were breached and that the encounter would be examined by an all-party committee.