Is profanity in Parliament a longstanding tradition?
Published Thursday, December 15, 2011 7:30PM EST
As Parliament wraps up for the holidays, politics-watchers across Canada are looking forward to a break from what has seemed like a new low in the behaviour of our elected officials. But looking back into the annals of Parliamentary time, what may seem like increased insolence appears like more of the same.
On Wednesday, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau set off a firestorm when he called Environment Minister Peter Kent a "piece of s--t" in the House of Commons. Kent has just finished criticizing another NDP member for failing to attend the Durban climate talks, apparently forgetting that his government had barred opposition MPs from the conference.
While avoiding any major outbursts lately, the Conservatives' have been criticized for their own sort of bad behaviour in the form of limiting House discussion -- a move that's antagonized opposition MPs. Last month, repeat decorum offender NDP MP Pat Martin reacted to the move to limit debate with two now-famous tweets, calling the decision a "f---ing disgrace" and "jackboot s—t."
More recently, Liberal Bob Rae had his own Twitter outburst -- albeit a much less offensive one. While reacting to news of a scrap between two prominent young Liberals on Wednesday, the interim Grit leader tweeted simply "What bulls--t is this?"
Here, we take a look at some notably rude moments of House of Commons past, possibly fuelled by Parliamentary privilege, which means comments made in the House are protected from libel laws.
1849: Family Compact members burned down the Province of Canada's Parliament buildings in Montreal, destroying more than 20,000 books and all of Canada's public records. Eggs thrown at Governor General Lord Elgin.
1971: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau allegedly tells Tory MP Lincoln Alexander to "f--- off."
1985: In what would begin a long line of sexist remarks against outspoken Liberal MP Sheila Copps, Conservative John Crosbie tells her to "quiet down, baby." Copps famously responded: "I'm not his baby. I'm nobody's baby and I'd like him to withdraw those remarks."
1991: Tory MP William Kempling calls Copps a "slut."
1991: Tory MP Jack Shields allegedly says "shut up, Sambo," a racist slur, to NDP MP Howard McCurdy, the only black member in the House. Shields later denies it.
1997: Liberal minister Doug Young seemingly refers to Reform MP Deborah Grey as "more than a slab of bacon."
1997: Reform MP Darrel Stinson calls Progressive Conservative Leader Jean Charest a "fat little, chubby little sucker."
1997: Another slag at Copps, this time by Reform MP Ian McClelland. "Sheila, that was a sh---y thing to do and confirms you are one bitch," he said.
2003: After Progressive Conservative Elsie Wayne asked Liberal Defence Minister John McCallum if military vehicles would get markings to help avoid friendly fire, McCallum responded by making fun of Wayne's sweater, which was black and criss-crossed with a sparkling pattern. "It has been suggested that if our soldiers were to wear the dress of the honourable member, that they would be very well identified."
2005: Tory MP John Reynolds calls Liberal MP Joe Volpe a "sleazebag" after the former criticized his spending habits
2006: Conservative Peter MacKay seemed to swing way below the belt at former girlfriend/former Tory Belinda Stronach when answering this question on the environment from Liberal David McGuinty: "What about your dog?" "You already have her," McKay replied, later denying the statement referred to Stronach.