Opposition drops inquiry to Justin Trudeau's 'elbowgate' incident

An all-party parliamentary committee has decided not to pursue any punishment against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the "elbowgate" incident that rocked the House of Commons on May 18.

PM apologized 3 times after inadvertently elbowing NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau during House melee

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for his conduct following an incident when he pulled Conservative whip Gord Brown through a clutch of New Democrat MPs to hurry up a vote related to doctor-assisted dying. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

An all-party parliamentary committee has decided not to pursue an investigation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the so-called elbowgate incident that rocked the House of Commons on May 18.

Trudeau strode across the aisle in the House and grabbed Conservative whip Gord Brown to get him through a group of NDP MPs ahead of a crucial vote on the government's assisted-dying legislation. Trudeau inadvertently elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest during the melee.

David Christopherson, an NDP member on the standing committee on procedure and House affairs — the body studying the incident — read a statement from Brosseau, who is travelling in China on a parliamentary trade mission.

Brosseau wrote that the prime minister's "inappropriate, physical intervention" was not acceptable in any workplace, but she accepts Trudeau's "comprehensive" apology and asked that the committee drop the issue.

"The details of the unprecedented physical interaction between the prime minister and members of the opposition are well documented ... it left many members stunned and raised important questions about the conduct of the prime minister in a House that was already confronted with unprecedented government measures to limit debate.

"It is my sincere hope that all members will work to ensure that we never see this conduct repeated and also that we take this opportunity to recommit to improving the tone of debate in Parliament," she wrote.

Christopherson said he, too, was satisfied with the prime minister's full apology. "This hearing today is sufficient to close the matter," he said as he introduced a motion to end further inquiry.

All members of the committee agreed that the issue is resolved and no further action is required.

Conservative committee member Scott Reid told CBC News he voted to drop the inquiry after hearing the sentiment in Brosseau's letter, in which she explicitly said she wanted the matter closed. 

The committee will not issue a report on the incident, meaning there will be no further debate on Trudeau's conduct in the House of Commons.

"I've always said I would accept the committee's decision," Trudeau said in French Tuesday on his way into the chamber for question period.

The Liberals have a majority on the committee which considered whether Trudeau should be called to the bar to apologize for the scuffle on the floor of the House of Commons.

The issue was originally referred to this committee at the behest of the opposition parties, which claimed Brosseau's parliamentary privileges were breached when she left the chamber after the encounter with Trudeau, thereby missing a vote.

Conservatives and New Democrats could have recommended any number of measures to admonish Trudeau, including suspension or calling the prime minister to the bar of the House of Commons to apologize yet again. They could also have asked Trudeau to testify about his version of events.

"I hope it's a learning moment for all us. We're going to get into instances again in the future, to be blunt ... but I hope at the end of the day we're all respectful of one another," Liberal MP Arnold Chan said.

Justin Trudeau's actions cause uproar in House

7 years ago
Duration 0:42
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau grabs Tory MP Gord Brown and also appears to bump NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the House of Commons Wednesday.


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