ANALYSIS: ‘Two Sets of Rules’ or a ‘Disgrace’: Poilievre’s ‘Wacko’ Comment and House Expulsion Draw Strong Reactions

by EditorK

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during question period in Ottawa on Nov. 2, 2023. (Screenshot from ParlVu)

Noé Chartier

By Noé Chartier

The expulsion of Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre proverbially set the House of Commons on fire this week, with parties on all sides trying to gain politically from the polarizing event.

“What you witnessed in the House of Commons moments ago is a disgrace,” Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon said about Mr. Poilievre’s behaviour on April 30. “It’s a disrespect for our institutions, a disrespect for the Speaker.”

Before being expelled, Mr. Poilievre refused to “simply withdraw” calling the prime minister and his drug policy “wacko” after House Speaker Greg Fergus asked him to do so, insisting on replacing it with words like “radical” or “extremist.”

Mr. MacKinnon and other cabinet members spoke to reporters after the expulsion. Immigration Minister Marc Miller said he doesn’t believe the event will fuel a narrative that Mr. Poilievre is being silenced by the Liberals.

“Who’s being silenced?” asked Mr. Miller. “That guy never shut his mouth in his life. … I think it’d be good if he shut up, shut his yap once in a while.”

The Liberals have been feeling the heat for months as they continue trailing the Tories in every poll by a large margin. Mr. Poilieve has been blaming essentially every social and economic ill on Liberal government policy.

The Conservatives also portray the latest controversy as a sign that democracy is not quite right under the current government.

Tory MPs want Mr. Fergus, a Liberal MP, to resign as Speaker for applying different rules in the House for Opposition members. They had previously asked Mr. Fergus to step down early in his short tenure for making a partisan video last December.

Speaking to reporters after the expulsion, Conservative MP and ethics critic Michael Barrett said the policy of letting drugs be consumed on playgrounds and in hospitals is indeed “wacko.”

He defended Mr. Poilievre’s response to the Speaker’s request, saying the Tory leader did withdraw his comment, while also acknowledging that he accompanied the withdrawal with a request for replacement.

Mr. Barrett also said Mr. Fergus applied a double standard.

“We’re not going to stay in proceedings when there’re two sets of rules—one set of rules for a prime minister, who isn’t asked to follow the same rules that the Official Opposition [is asked to follow],” he said.

Conservative MPs walked out of the House of Commons after Mr. Poilievre was expelled.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before Mr. Poilievre made his “wacko” comment, had accused the Tory leader of courting “extremists” and “white nationalists” and displaying “shameful, spineless leadership.”

Before Mr. Poilievre’s removal from the House, Mr. Fergus had already expelled Conservative MP Rachael Thomas for challenging his authority and saying it was “disgraceful” for him not to call out the prime minister.

The next day, Ms. Thomas raised a question of privilege over the matter, saying she withdrew her comment at Mr. Fergus’s request but was nonetheless expelled. She said the unedited transcript of House proceedings, called the “Blues,” indicates she had said “I withdraw,” but those words do not appear in the official transcript, the Hansard.

Ms. Thomas said her expulsion thus resulted in a breach of her parliamentary privilege. Mr. Fergus said he would review the matter.

‘Common Sense’

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet expressed support for the Speaker’s decision immediately following his expulsion of Mr. Poilievre, congratulating him on “showing some common sense.” Mr. Blanchet also said he appreciated the opportunity to ask the government more questions now that the Conservatives had left the Commons.

“If the chair wants more questions, we are ready to ask plenty of them,” he said.

However, it now appears the Bloc has changed its position, with House leader Alain Therrien saying Mr. Fergus should resign.

“Mr. Fergus has had difficulty maintaining peace in Parliament for a long time,” said Mr. Therrien, reported CBC News. “We think the Speaker should leave. The recent events confirm that position.”

Meanwhile, the NDP, which has an agreement to keep the minority Liberals in power, have also criticized Mr. Poilievre behaviour.

Mr. Poilievre “made an inappropriate comment and refused to withdraw it,” said NDP House leader Peter Julian. “He seems to want to burn everything down. It’s a pyromaniac Poilievre.”

Former NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, on the other hand, said Mr. Fergus should step down.

“This was not only precipitous. For me it was manifestly, obviously partisan, and I don’t come at that lightly,” said the former politician during CTV’s Power Play program on April 30. “It was an awful performance by Speaker Greg Fergus. He just lost control. … Fergus should do the right thing and step down.”


The firestorm started on a quiet Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Trudeau making his first appearance at a question period session, after a week’s break from House proceedings and a whirlwind budget-promotion tour.

The previous week had concluded with the B.C. NDP government “urgently” asking Ottawa to put an end to the hard drugs decriminalization experiment in the province, citing declining health and public safety.

The federal Conservatives had been advocating for just that for some time, with Mr. Poilievre often criticizing the policy and similar ones like “safe supply.”

The Tory leader raised the issue with his first question to the prime minister, mentioning how a media report speaks of a supervised injection site near a Montreal school with syringes on the ground.

“When will he reverse his radical policies that are causing deaths?” asked Mr. Poilievre in French.

Mr. Trudeau answered that his government would continue to work with the provinces to address the public health crisis in a “rigorous but compassionate matter.”

As Mr. Poilievre usually does, he repeated a similar question in English using B.C. as an example this time and citing the explosion of overdose deaths.

Instead of responding in French, Mr. Trudeau said he had just answered the question and pivoted to accusing Mr. Poilievre of courting “extreme right nationalist groups like Diagolon.” This drew protests from the Conservative benches, which was followed by Mr. Fergus asking MPs to “control” themselves.

Mr. Poilievre shot back, saying, “I always condemn extremism and racism, including from the guy who spent the first half of his adult life as a practising racist, dressing up in hideous racist costumes so many times.”

This time Mr. Fergus intervened and told Mr. Poilievre he cannot make such an accusation against a person’s character.

Later, Mr. Poilievre asked the “wacko prime minister” when he would put an end to his “wacko policy.” Mr. Fergus said the language was “not acceptable” and asked Mr. Poilievre to withdraw the term.

Mr. Poilievre initially tried to replace the term with “radical” or “extremist,” but Mr. Fergus insisted it be “simply withdrawn.”

After Mr. Poilievre replied by saying, “Mr. Speaker, I simply withdraw it and replace it with the aforementioned adjective,” Mr. Fergus expelled him from the House.

‘Extremist Groups’

Ever since Mr. Poilievre visited anti-carbon tax protesters on April 23 in Atlantic Canada, where a small hand-drawn Diagolon flag could be seen on an RV door, the Liberals have been trying to paint him as courting extremists.

The prime minister’s talking points in the House of Commons have been repeated by his ministers.

“You have a leader of the Opposition who proactively visits and cultivates the support of white nationalist extremist groups,” said Government House leader MacKinnon.

Immigration Minister Miller said he was not accusing Mr. Poilievre of being an “extremist” or a “racist,” but he said the Tory leader is playing “footsies with them, and he dances with them.”

Diagolon is the name of a fictitious country invented as an internet joke by military veteran Jeremy MacKenzie, according to testimonies at the public inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act in 2022. His supporters coalesce around the concept and Mr. MacKenzie’s podcast, in which he has used anti-government and incendiary language such as calling for the hanging of those he calls “traitors.”

Mr. MacKenzie said in an April 30 video statement after Mr. Poilievre’s expulsion that he is not affiliated with the carbon tax protesters and that the symbol had been drawn on the RV door during the 2022 Freedom Convoy protest. Mr. MacKenzie also said he is not affiliated with the Conservative Party nor is he a supporter of Mr. Poilievre.

Mr. Poilievre has in the past denounced Mr. MacKenzie for making offensive remarks about his wife, Anaida Poilievre. In his video, Mr. Mackenzie said it should be obvious that he and Mr. Poilievre are “not mutual friends.”

“These claims by the Liberals are an outright and deliberately malicious fabrication in a desperate and pathetic attempt to sway support away from the Conservative Party’s momentum,” he said.

Jennifer Cowan and Chandra Philip contributed to this report.

Noé Chartier is a senior reporter with the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times. Twitter: @NChartierET

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