Heated exchange between Van Loan, Mulcair in House
A verbal altercation between Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, his NDP counterpart Nathan Cullen and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair occurred in the House of Commons Wednesday, briefly disrupting proceedings.
Van Loan was accused of giving the middle finger to Mulcair and Cullen said the House leader used “unparliamentary” language.
“(That language) is better in a bar, and not every bar,” Cullen told CTV’s Power Play.
Van Loan denied making an obscene gesture, but said he did point his index finger at Cullen and “might have used a colourful word.”
Van Loan said Mulcair was the one who “totally snapped” at him when he approached Cullen to express his frustration over what he called a “delay tactic by the NDP” on a budget bill vote.
Moments before the altercation, House Speaker Andrew Scheer had ruled against Cullen’s motion to revoke the report stage of the marathon omnibus bill vote Tuesday night.
Cullen argued that the end of the vote should be deemed “illegitimate” because Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wasn’t in his seat at the time.
After the Speaker’s ruling, Van Loan crossed the floor to speak with Mulcair and Cullen.
Cullen said Van Loan used an expletive and Mulcair responded by telling him: “Don’t threaten my House leader.”
Van Loan said he tried to “deescalate” the situation, but Mulcair was “quite angry.”
“I was frankly so surprised by Mulcair…losing his temper the way he did, snapping that way, that I really don’t remember too much what was said after that,” he told CTV News.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay was seen pulling Van Loan away from Mulcair’s bench. NDP MP Yvon Godin was also heard complaining that Van Loan “gave the finger” as he crossed the floor toward the Opposition.
NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, who had a front-row view of the scuffle, told Power Play that Van Loan used “a lot of expletives.”
“I think the Conservative House leader did not act appropriately,” she said. “He came over pretty aggressively, guns blazing…heated words were said and it’s not cool.”
But Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner said that Mulcair was “very aggressive with his language as well.”
“There’s nobody in the right here,” he said. “This is the House of Commons and there’s no place for this.”
Both Cullen and Van Loan said they planned to discuss the incident with one another.