Justin Trudeau accused of 'childish behaviour' in House of Commons

The Conservative MP for Banff-Airdrie stood on a point of order after question period on Thursday, but explained that he was doing so with some hesitation. He had, he said, seen the prime minister sticking out his tongue.

Commons sketch: Conservative MP Blake Richards says he saw PM stick out his tongue

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks Thursday during question period in the House of Commons, where Tory MP Blake Richards asked him to watch his tongue. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Conservative MP for Banff-Airdrie stood on a point of order after question period on Thursday, but explained that he was doing so with some hesitation. He had, he said, seen the prime minister sticking out his tongue.

"I rise reluctantly following question period today," Blake Richards explained, "because I think all Canadians would expect our prime minister to always conduct himself with the highest level of dignity and I think to demonstrate the utmost respect for an institution such as the House of Commons. And that should happen whether the prime minister is on camera or off camera, Mr. Speaker."

Richards was presumably not standing to congratulate Justin Trudeau on having met this standard.

"And on a number of occasions during this Parliament I have witnessed the prime minister, and I'm sure other members on this side of the House can confirm this," Richards continued, "behave in a manner that I would say is far below the dignity of his office that he holds."

Behind him, another Conservative MP, Rachel Harder, nodded.

There were groans from the Liberals still present in the House. 

"I think one could even call it childish behaviour, in fact, Mr. Speaker," said Richards.

More Liberal groans.

Taunting and making faces

That the prime minister would act like a child is unfortunate. But then it is perhaps not clear why he should be held to a higher standard than the other 337 members of the House (or how much of professional politics would remain if childishness was outlawed).

"And I only stand today because I think it was particularly egregious today," Richards said.

"I saw it a frequent number of occasions today. Taunting. Making faces at other members of Parliament when they were speaking."

But this was not quite what had apparently brought Richards to his feet.

"And he certainly went too far when I saw him stick his tongue out," Richards revealed.

So now that is on the official record for eternity.

Trudeau's decorum in HoC questioned by Conservative MP

6 years ago
Duration 2:26
Conservative MP Blake Richards says the Prime Minister is often misbehaving, off camera, in the House of Commons - even going so far as to stick his tongue out at opposition MPs.

The Right Honourable tongue

The sighting of the Right Honourable tongue had apparently come a half hour earlier.

"It was following a question that had been put by the member for South Surrey-White Rock. And that is clearly in my mind below the dignity of the office that he holds."

The questions from Conservative MP Diane Watts had to do with the screening requirements on large infrastructure projects funded through public-private partnerships and certain relevant regulatory changes. She had wondered whether the Liberal government was preparing to sell the organization known as P3 Canada to assist in balancing the budget. 

Possibly the prime minister had found one or all of her concerns to be unwarranted.

One might now debate the meaning of the prime minister's outwardly thrust tongue. Richards ventured that the prime minister should apologize to the House and all Canadians for "such immature behaviour." 

An unrelated display of humility

It might have otherwise been an afternoon about a certain display of humility by Trudeau.

Sometime after he is said to have stuck out his tongue, the prime minister was asked by Conservative MP Scott Reid to account for a claim on Wednesday that discussions with the other parties toward a committee on electoral reform were ongoing and the possible suggestion that somehow those other parties were holding things up.

Reid noted that there was no basis for either statement and Trudeau then stood and offered an apology to him. The prime minister then even clapped with a certain appreciation as Reid used a reference to quantum computing to further impugn Trudeau's assertions of the day before.

Son of fuddle-duddle

A review of the available video shows no tongue, only a brief glimpse of the prime minister making off the record comments to the opposition side as the infrastructure minister concludes the official response. The image is thus lost to history and left to the imagination

There is potentially a part of the prime minister that enjoys the tumult of the House. The mind returns to the image of him motioning for his rivals to keep it coming during one session a few months ago. And there were, a few years ago, those uncouth words for Peter Kent. And he is the son of a man who once said fuddle-duddle.

But the prime minister had left the House before Richards spoke and so he was not present to respond. Asked about the prime minister's tongue, the Prime Minister's Office deferred to the government House leader's response to Richards.

Dominic LeBlanc had assured MPs of Trudeau's respect for the House, but had added that, "we can all do more to improve decorum in the House."


Aaron Wherry

Senior writer

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean's, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. He is the author of Promise & Peril, a book about Justin Trudeau's years in power.