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Poilievre kicked out of Commons after calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘wacko’

OTTAWA –

Testy exchanges between the prime minister and his chief opponent ended with the Opposition leader and one of his MPs being ejected from the House of Commons on Tuesday — and the rest of Conservative caucus walking out of the chamber in protest.

The unusually tense events saw Speaker Greg Fergus caution both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to rephrase their comments to avoid making direct accusations about the character of another MP.

The warnings came after Poilievre referred to Trudeau as “the guy who spent the first half of his adult life as a practicing racist,” referring to photos that emerged of Trudeau dressed in black and brown face during the 2019 election.

Fergus warned Trudeau after he said Poilievre was “showing us exactly what shameful, spineless leadership looks like,” and accused him of shaking hands with “white nationalists.”

The tense back-and-forth came as Poilievre and the Conservatives were attacking the Liberals for having allowed British Columbia to allow the decriminalization of hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl in public places, in public places, which the provincial NDP government is now asking Health Canada to reverse.

The Conservative argue the policy has caused great harm.

Trudeau ignored that issue completely, responding to each question about drugs by accusing Poilievre of associating with far-right extremists.

He said a person who does so is not fit to be prime minister.

He made the remarks after videos circulated online of Poilievre last week stopping at what protesters described as an anti-carbon price protest in Atlantic Canada.

The scene featured expletive-laden flags bearing Trudeau’s name.

At one point, videos show Poilievre exiting a trailer belonging to one of the protesters. Its exterior featured many images, including a symbol belonging to the far-right online group Diagalon.

The trouble in the House began to escalate when Speaker Greg Fergus ejected Conservative MP Rachael Thomas after she said he was “acting in a disgraceful manner.”

The tense exchange continued after her departure, with Trudeau saying Poilievre is a “19-year” politician who made a choice to associate with that encampment.

“Any leader that needs the support of a far-right white nationalist group to fundraise and get closer to power does not deserve elected office,” the prime minister charged.

Poilievre said the prime minister’s words were only his “latest distraction” from his own “extremist policies.”

“When will we put an end to this wacko policy by this wacko prime minister?”

Fergus then drew the line.

“No, no,” he said. “That is not acceptable.”

He asked Poilievre to withdraw his comments, saying they were unparliamentary.

Poilievre didn’t withdraw, but said he would replace the word with “extremist,” which Fergus also rejected.

He then said he would replace it with “radical,” which Fergus did not accept either.

He asked the Conservative leader to “simply withdraw” the comment.

When Fergus asked Poilievre for a final time to take back his comment, the Conservative leader said, “I simply withdraw and replace with the aforementioned adjective.”

Fergus then ordered him to leave the chamber and not participate in further debate Tuesday, either in person or virtually.

Much of the Conservative caucus exited at the same time, and all of them eventually left before question period was over.

Government House leader Steven MacKinnon emerged from the House a few moments later, calling what had just unfolded a “disgrace.”

“It’s a disrespect for our institutions, a disrespect for the Speaker.,” he said.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner said the incidents in the House showed evidence of a double standard and said Poilievre was speaking the truth.

“If you look at the definition of wacko, it is literally what the Liberal government is doing in terms of holding on to the policies of decriminalizing hard drugs like heroin and crack,” she said.

Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet was clearly pleased by the events, thanking Fergus in French for showing “common sense” in the chamber.

Bloc MP Louis Plamondon, the longest serving MP in the House having been elected in 1984, said Poilievre’s comment was “insulting.”

He said he has not seen a party leader ejected in 40 years on the Hill and doesn’t remember a party staging a mass walkout either.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen said watching Poilievre get ejected was upsetting.

“The Speaker is supposed to be a referee, not a participant.”

“It shows his lack of respect for the institution,” Joly said of Poilievre.

After leaving, Poilievre posted on X that Fergus “censored” him for calling Trudeau’s drug policies “wacko.”

And in a written statement, the Conservatives doubled down on the use of the word, saying it’s been uttered in the House of Commons many times in the past without being considered unparliamentary.

The party said Fergus kicked Poilievre out to protect the prime minister.

The Liberals continued their attacks on Poilievre outside the chamber.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree said X that “last week Pierre Poilievre showed us who his friends are when he met with known white supremacists. Today, he showed us the regard he holds for our democracy.”

Liberal MP Charles Sousa said Poilievre loves to criticize and attack and be “cute” about his questions.

But he charged that the Conservative leader is refusing to answer the question about why he chose to associate with a group displaying symbols of the far-right Diagalon group.

“Why is he associated with an extremist right organization like Diagalon?” Sousa said.

“I think that speaks a lot about who he is and his character. And I think that’s the real question today.”

When asked what she thought about what happened after she was kicked out of the chamber, Harder quipped: “Pretty wacko.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024.

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