MP defends Tory leader's use of the word 'wacko'

Double standard alleged

The last thing I wanted to focus on in my report this week was the events that occurred in the House of Commons on Tuesday, April 30th, when the Speaker of the House removed the leader of the official Opposition (Conservative Leader Pierre Poilivre) from Question Period.

My motivation for writing about this topic stems from my concern that Canadians, based on media reports I heard, may not be hearing both sides on the issue. I believe in accountability and think that citizens should be informed about the proceedings of our Canadian Parliament.

You might have heard the Speaker expelled the leader of the official Opposition for calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "wacko". Some news organizations have subsequently reported this as "unparliamentary language".

Firstly, allow me to quote verbatim from Hansard the exact words the leader of the official Opposition said to Trudeau:

“Mr. Speaker, it is a choice for the prime minister to implement extremist policies that have taken the lives of 2,500 British Columbians every single year. Since the B.C. NDP has asked him to reverse course on his and formerly the NDP's radical decriminalization policy, 22 British Columbians have died of drug overdoses, but he continues to allow those drugs to kill the people in our hospitals and on our public transit. When will we put an end to this wacko policy by the wacko prime minister?”

For context, the Oxford Learning Dictionary defines the word "wacko" as "crazy; not sensible".

It should be noted that the term "wacko" has been used in the House of Commons before. Prior to yesterday, it had been used more than 20 times by various Liberal, NDP and Conservative Members of Parliament. Until yesterday, the term had never been deemed "un-parliamentary."

For the sake of full disclosure, I've never used the term before.

The Speaker, Liberal MP Greg Fergus, asked the Poilievre to retract the word. After a back-and-forth in which (Poilievre) offered to use alternative words such as "radical" or "extremist", his final comment to the Speaker was, "Mr. Speaker, I simply withdraw it and replace it with the aforementioned adjective." Subsequently, the Speaker ordered the Poilievre to leave the House, sparking the news stories.

Trudeau was vocal in Question Period. He accused Poilievre of "showing us exactly what shameful, spineless leadership looks like." He also claimed that the Opposition leader was courting the support of a "far-right, white nationalist group" that, according to Trudeau, promotes violence against Canadians.

Despite "wacko" being an accepted term in the long-standing history of the House of Commons, only the leader of the official Opposition was asked by the Speaker to withdraw his comment.

That prompted a reaction from many Conservative MPs who perceive a double standard in the House of Commons. They believe there is one set of rules for the prime minister and another for the official Opposition. In protest against the perceived bias, most Conservative MPs, including myself, walked out of Question Period.

For those of you who think this is simply Conservative MPs crying sour grapes, I would like you to consider the words of former NDP and official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair who stated, “Never in my career have I seen such, in my view, blatant partisanship from a Speaker” further stating “Fergus should do the right thing and step down.”

That leads to my question for you this week:

Do you agree with former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair that Speaker Greg Fergus should resign due to partisanship? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central -Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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