Poilievre expelled from the House of Commons after calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “crazy”


Testy exchanges between the prime minister and his main opponent ended with the opposition leader and one of his MPs being expelled from the House of Commons on Tuesday, and the rest of the Conservative caucus leaving the chamber in protest.

During the unusually tense events, President Greg Fergus warned 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.

Fergus issued a warning to Poilievre after he referred to Trudeau as “the guy who spent the first half of his adult life as a practicing racist,” in reference to photos that emerged during the 2019 election of Trudeau dressed in black and with a dark face.

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

The tense back-and-forth came as Poilievre and the Conservatives attacked the Liberals for allowing British Columbia to allow the decriminalization of hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl in public places, something the NDP provincial government is now calling on Health Canada to reverse.

Conservatives argue the policy has caused great harm.

Trudeau completely ignored that issue and responded to every drug question by accusing Poilievre of associating with far-right extremists.

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

He made the comments after videos circulated online of Poilievre stopping at what demonstrators described as a protest against carbon pricing 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 Diagolon.

Trouble in the House began to escalate when Fergus expelled Conservative MP Rachael Thomas after she said she was “acting disgracefully”.

The tense exchange continued after his departure, with Trudeau saying that Poilievre is a “19-year-old” politician who decided to associate himself with that camp.

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

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

“When will we put an end to this crazy policy of this crazy 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 did not 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 also did not accept.

He called on the Conservative leader to “simply withdraw” the comment.

When Fergus asked Poilievre one last time to withdraw his comment, the Conservative leader said: “I simply withdraw it and replace it with the aforementioned adjective.”

Fergus then ordered him to leave the chamber and not take part in any further debates on Tuesday, either in person or virtually.

Much of the conservative group walked out at the same time, and everyone eventually did so before question period ended.

Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon emerged from the Chamber moments later, calling what had just happened a “disgrace”.

“It is a lack of respect for our institutions, a lack of respect for the president,” he said.

After leaving, Poilievre posted on X that Fergus “censored” him for calling Trudeau’s drug policies “crazy.” Conservatives also launched a fundraiser based on the incident an hour after Poilievre’s overthrow.

In a written statement, the Conservatives insisted on the use of the word “mad”, saying it has been uttered in the House of Commons many times in the past without being considered unparliamentary.

The party said Fergus fired Poilievre to protect the prime minister.

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

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

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen said seeing Poilievre removed was disturbing.

“The Speaker should be an arbitrator, not a participant,” he said.

Health Minister Mark Holland defended the Speaker’s call, saying Poilievre was removed because he refused to retract his language.

“When the president, who is the judge of the rules in the House, asks you to retract a comment, it is important that you respect your position and that decision.”

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree also rejected the idea that Fergus would treat Conservatives differently.

“He has called members of the Liberal Party, he has called members of the Conservative Party; today he even called members of other parties,” he said.

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet was clearly pleased with the developments and thanked Fergus in French for showing “common sense” on camera.

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

He said he hasn’t seen a party leader ousted in 40 years at the Capitol and doesn’t remember a party holding a mass walkout.

The liberals continued their attacks on Poilievre outside the chamber. Liberal MP Charles Sousa said it is noteworthy that the conservative leader refused to answer questions about why he chose to associate himself with a group that displays symbols of the far-right group Diagolon.

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

Immigration Minister Marc Miller ultimately dismissed the idea that anyone was silencing Poilievre.

“I think it would be good if he shut up once in a while,” he said.

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

With files from Mickey Djuric, Laura Osman, Dylan Robertson and Simon Hopkins

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