Opinion

Goldstein

Trudeau's non-apology apology

By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while responding to questions after delivering an apology in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 19, 2016 following a physical alteration the previous day. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while responding to questions after delivering an apology in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 19, 2016 following a physical alteration the previous day. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Today let's consider the "apologies" Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made for acting like a dork in the House of Commons last week.

The first is the unscripted one he gave immediately following the Wednesday evening fracas, in which he grabbed Conservative whip Gord Brown's arm and elbowed New Democrat MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest.

The more immediate of two "apologies" he attempted that evening, I'd argue it's the one that best describes how he felt, as opposed to his third, scripted apology the next day.

I've taken it from the Edited Hansard, meaning it's been cleaned up to omit pauses and such:

"Mr. Speaker, as we were gathered here for a vote, after the time had counted down, I observed our whip walking down the aisle to proceed with the vote. I had noticed that the official opposition whip seemed to be impeded in his progress down the hall. I felt that this lacked in respect for Parliament and indeed for the function that the official opposition whip is endeavouring to deliver on behalf of all of us. Therefore, I walked over to encourage the member to come through, and indeed, offered my arm to help him come through the gaggle of MPs standing there impeding his progress down the aisle, and impeding our ability to move forward with this important vote. In so doing, I admit that I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm, including someone behind me whom I did not see. I certainly did not intend to offend or impact on anyone. I was simply concerned that, unfortunately, the decorum of this place has been impeded by this kind of prevention of the work that the whips are doing. If anyone feels that they were impacted by my actions, I completely apologize. It was not my intention to hurt anyone. It is my intention to get this vote done."

Far from apologizing, Trudeau is blaming the opposition and giving an elaborate justification for his actions.

He's not admitting he grabbed Brown or hurt Brosseau.

He only apologizes, "if anyone feels" they were "impacted" by his actions, which doesn't concede anyone was impacted. It wasn't his "intention" to hurt anyone, which isn't an admission anyone was hurt.

Now consider his scripted apology to the Commons Thursday morning.

"First, I apologize for crossing the floor in an attempt to have (Brown) take his seat. That intervention was not appropriate. It is not my role and it should not have happened. In particular, I should not have made physical contact with the member, and I apologize to the member and to all parliamentarians for my inappropriate contact.

Second, I would like to apologize to (Brosseau). In my haste, I did not pay attention to my surroundings, and as a result I accidentally bumped (her), something I regret profoundly. I sincerely apologize for my actions yesterday.

I would also like to apologize to all my colleagues in the House and to you, Mr. Speaker, for failing to live up to a higher standard of behaviour. Members rightfully expect better behaviour from anyone in the House. I expect better behaviour of myself."

Trudeau agreed the incident should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee and he will accept its findings.

Unlike his first effort, this is an actual apology, but I'd argue it's also insincere.

Trudeau told us what he really thought the evening before. I believe him.