Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shiddle-diddle and the bully

Question Period was an eventful one today in the House of Commons.

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau made national headlines for calling Peter Kent, the federal Environment Minister, a “piece of sh-t,” and yours truly got in hot water for calling the minister of Fisheries and Oceans a “bully.”

“Bully” is supposedly unparliamentary language (whereas “a pig with nothing but a squeak,” as one person informed me via Twitter, is not unparliamentary).

I had no intention of calling Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield a bully.

But in response to a question from NDP MP Fin Donnelly about how scientists are afraid to go public with concerns about cuts to Fisheries and Oceans, the minister asked, “Do I look like a bully?”

It then just happened to be my turn to ask a question, resulting in the following exchange:

Mr. Speaker, the answer to the minister's question, is “Yes sir, your department and you, sir, are a bully.”

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Hon. Jim Flaherty: He looks like a bully. Kick him out.

The Speaker: Order, please. We have to spend two more days together with each other, so I would ask for a little order. I heard something that was unparliamentary. I will ask the honourable member to rephrase his question from what I heard. The honourable member for St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot apologize, I simply answered the minister's—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker moved on to the next question.

I later offered a partial apology:

"Mr. Speaker, I wish to apologize for using a word that I have been told is unparliamentary. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked a question. He asked this House whether he looked like a bully. I merely answered his question. I would answer the question the same way if he asked it again."

I eventually had to withdraw the remark and offer an unqualified apology, or face the Speaker’s wrath in the form of not being recognized in the House.

Later in the evening the House of Commons voted on my private member’s bill – the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding Act, which calls for a judicial inquiry.

The bill was voted down – 158 to 115, with all NDP, Liberal, and Bloc MPs, as well as the lone Green MP, voting for it, and all Conservative MPs (including Labrador Conservative MP Peter Penashue) voting against.

Which was expected.

Within hours of announcing my private member’s bill in September (and even before he had read the bill) the Fisheries and Oceans minister said he was against an inquiry.

Take this to the bank: I’m not done yet.

Stay tuned.

Finally, the first part of the headline for this blog post (Shiddle-diddle) was taken from a column in the National Post.

Shiddle diddle is actually a play on Pierre Trudeau’s famous "fuddle duddle" comment.

Trudeau made the comment (or a version of it) in 1971 to the late Conservative MP John Lundrigan, a Newfoundlander.

1 comment:

JRM said...

I think your error (and, it would seem, the speaker's) was not regarding the word 'bully'. If the word was the problem, then the Minister should have been reprimanded as well. It looks to me like the problem was that you directed your comments at the Minister and not at the Speaker.

I think a parliamentary response would have been "Mr. Speaker, in answer to the Honourable minister's question, while I would not comment on his physical appearance, I would concede that both he and his department are certainly acting the bully."

I think that's how Crosbie used to get away with it.