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Prime Minister Trudeau: A Political “Up-Stander” rather than a “By-Stander”

It was really interesting to watch the debate surrounding Bill C-14 on CPAC today. Who would have thought I would witness the prime minister of Canada exit his seat in parliament, walk over to a group of NDP members who appeared to be speaking with Conservative Whip Gordon Brown, and reach in and grab Brown by his arm, pulling him out of the group and in the process, appearing to have elbowed NDP member Ruth-Ellen Brosseau in the chest region. Within minutes of this incident taking place, Brosseau walked out of House, and the Prime Minister once again left his seat to walk towards the exit that Brosseau left through. The prime minister then attempted to return to his seat, at which time he was confronted by several members of the NDP, where a yelling match then appeared to take place, resulting in a large number of members from all parties leaping from their seats to head towards this incident.

At first glance, it is easy to believe that Prime Minister Trudeau lost his cool and forcefully placed his hands on Gordon Brown, and then in the process physically elbowed Ruth-Ellen Brosseau, who then needed to leave the House due to severe discomfort. It was no wonder that the NDP and the Conservatives were quick to take political advantage of this incident; hell, if I were a politician looking for political advantage over my opposition, I would probably do the same thing.

However, one thing I have learned in my 30 years of policing is that an incident caught by the naked eye can often be quite different from the reality of what actually took place. This is one reason why video has become such an important investigative tool. In this case I have now seen two different camera view points of this incident, which I have been able to watch and slow down at least 50 times, and I’ve learned something interesting:

  • It is clear in the video that 5 members of the NDP, including its leader were willfully and purposely physically blocking Gordon Brown in his attempt to return back to his seat to vote on C-14. In fact, when you watch the video, if Brown moved left, the 5 NDP members, including Brosseau, would move left. If Brown moved right, the NDP members would then move right as a group

This is apparently a stall tactic that, although not allowed in the House, those in parliament have become willfully blind towards.

  • During the willful blocking of Gordon Brown, the Speaker of The House and his staff are not able to prevent or bring the members who are conducting this prohibited action to order.

  • Next the prime minister proceeded to exit his bench, walk over to the group who are blocking Brown, reach in with his left arm and grab Brown by his right arm and pull him through what can only be called a NDP blockade. It was at this time that the prime minister’s elbow, as he was pulling Brown out of the crowd, is seen to accidentally make contact with Brosseau’s chest, knocking her back slightly.

  • As the prime minister escorted Brown back to his bench so that the vote could take place, he released Brown and patted him on his left shoulder. Members of both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party were then seen standing up and applauding the prime minister’s actions.

  • As this was taking place, you could see several members of the NDP who had been blocking Brown laughing, as they watched both the prime minister and Brown return to their seats.

  • It was at this time that you could also see Mulcair speaking to Brosseau who was pointing at her chest.

  • Both Brosseau and Mulcair returned to their seats where they continued to speak with one another. Brosseau, after having this conversation with Mulcair, then proceeded to leave the house as she pulled a cellphone from her right sweater pocket.

  • The prime minister once again left his seat and attempted to walk over toward Brosseau, but failed to intercept her before she exited the chambers.

  • The prime minister then attempted to return back to his seat, but was then confronted by Mulcair who had now changed from his earlier laughing and jovial behaviour, to a new attitude of being antagonistic and he was now yelling and screaming at the prime minister.

  • It was at this time that several members of all parties exited their seats and headed towards this confrontation.

As a retired law enforcement professional, with over 29 years of investigating incidents such as this, it will be interesting to read and learn about witness statements to this event. Even Elizabeth May, who had a front row view of this incident, stated in the media today, specific to the NDP’s actions, “There was some mischief,” she said. “There was some mischief on the floor.”

Given that several members of parliament have labeled the prime minister’s behaviour as “bullying” and “aggressive,” I think it is important for the reader to know that I travel and speak internationally on social media safety and anti-bullying. Specific to peer aggression, I speak about the research supporting the fact that when a by-stander intervenes in a targeted situation, the peer aggression usually stops. This is why we are teaching students in schools to become “up-standers” rather than “by-standers.”

I’m sorry, but the behaviour that was being exhibited by the NDP members involved in the blockade of Brown was not only prohibited in the House, it was also inappropriate peer aggression behaviour and this is something that we adults are very quick to criticize when youth are seen to do the same thing. In fact, the way this group laughed and just shrugged off their behavior is actually what we see taking place by those bullies who target youth in schools.

The House Speaker and his staff are responsible to ensure the decorum of parliament: In this case, the Speaker had lost control, and was clearly being ignored by the NDP blockade. In fact, later in the video you can see, and hear, the Speaker advising members who were recording the incident on their cellphones, that their recordings were in complete violation of the rules. These members, too, ignored the Speaker, and continued to record the incident.

It was at this time that Prime Minister Trudeau clearly refused to continue to be a “by-stander” to the NDP’s prohibited actions, and took action as the leader of our country, because the Speaker could not! Our Prime Minister became the “up-stander” that we want students to become when dealing with these types of situations.

The prime minister walked over to this group with a clear forceful presence, to ensure that they all knew he meant business, and pulled Brown through this blockade and escorted him back to his seat.

Now, was Brosseau accidentally struck in the process? YES, she was. Was there any intent on the prime minister’s part to do so, clearly NO. It’s important not to forget that Brosseau was a “party to the offence” in the NDP blockade of Brown and thus purposely placed herself in harm’s way. In other words, if she wasn’t participating in the prohibited blockade, she would never have been accidentally struck. Even though Brosseau was a party to the offence, the prime minister still apologized for accidentally striking Brosseau.

The media scrums that took place and were broadcast live on TV with members of the NDP were deplorable. It was clear that they were allowing politics to cloud the truth. Shame, especially given that I voted for your party in the last election. I believe that once you have time to watch the video(s) of this incident, you will all agree with my findings.

I have no dog in this fight, other than to ensure that the truth prevails! We have seen a steady slide in the House of Commons where members continually disregard the authority and orders given by the Speaker. It was only a matter of time before someone else decided to take charge. What happened today, which was spawned by the NDP, makes my job teaching anti-bullying behaviour that much harder. Having said this, the prime minister proved that becoming an “up-stander” in the face of peer aggression works. THANK YOU, Mr. Prime Minister, you showed initiative and leadership and you have earned my vote next election!

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA “The White Hatter” #thewhitehatter