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Politicians behaving badly: Seven MPs who used unparliamentary language

Swearing, the Sergeant-at-Arms and salmon: some of the biggest breaches of modern parliamentary decorum since broadcasts of the House of Commons began in 1977.

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Dec. 14, 2011: Liberal MP Justin Trudeau vs. Conservative Environment Minister Peter Kent The current Liberal leadership candidate admitted he lost his “cool” in the House of Commons during Question Period when he called Environment Minister Peter Kent a “piece of shit.” When QP was over, Mr. Trudeau apologized. “I used language that was most undecidedly unparliamentary and for that I unreservedly apologize and withdraw my remarks,” Mr. Trudeau told MPs.

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March 3, 2008: Liberal MP Shawn Murphy vs. Brian Mulroney Nothing says unparliamentary language like calling for the hanging of a former prime minister. But that’s what Liberal MP Shawn Murphy found himself apologizing for because of his heckles during a Conservative speech about a crime bill. “Hang him high, hang Mulroney! Let’s get this Mulroney before the courts as soon as possible and hang him high,” Mr. Murphy was quoted as telling the House of Commons. “We gotta get Mulroney, put a noose on his head, put a noose on his head. Get tough on crime.” “I deeply regret my actions,” Mr. Murphy said later. | Oct. 16, 1985: NDP MP James Fulton and a dead salmon vs. Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney’s empty desk Unhappy with government policy on West Coast salmon fishing, NDP MP James Fulton raised his concerns during Question Period. When he was done, he pulled a dead salmon from under his desk, walked across the aisle, and dropped it on the desk of Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, who was away.

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June 13, 2006: Three Parliamentary Secretaries vs. the Bloc Québécois The three Conservative parliamentary secretaries – Colin Carrie, Jacques Gourde and Pierre Poilievre (pictured) – appeared to be having a great time. The Commons cameras showed the three MPs raising a bended arm with a fist toward Bloc MPs who were heckling the government. Mr. Poilievre apparently needed help, as Mr. Carrie could be seen giving his young colleauge tips on how to perfect the move.

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Oct. 29, 2003: Bloc Québécois MP Bernard Bigras vs. Liberal Immigration Minister Denis Coderre The Bloc MP offered a classic political apology to Liberal MP and immigration minister Denis Coderre after cameras caught the Bloc MP making a hand gesture that was reported as a “one-finger salute.” “I did point a finger at him,” Mr. Bigras (pictured) said. “If Mr. Coderre feels that what I did was insulting, I apologize very sincerely. But unless I am proven wrong, I do not think I acted disgraciously.”

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April 28, 1998: Independent MP John Nunziata vs. Health Minister Allan Rock The former Liberal MP crossed the floor of the House of Commons in an attempt to embarrass his former colleague, Health Minister Allan Rock. Mr. Nunziata (pictured) tried to get Mr. Rock to wear a ribbon in support of hepatitis C victims. The Liberal government was under fire over its compensation package for Canadians infected with the virus through tainted blood. Mr. Rock dismissed the gesture as theatrics. | Oct. 16, 1987: Liberal MP John Nunziata vs. Tory MP Dan Mckenzie In a rare case where things got physical, Winnipeg Tory MP Dan McKenzie apologized for shoving Liberal MP John Nunziata during a House of Commons debate. Mr. Nunziata claimed Mr. McKenzie “appeared to be seriously impaired by alcohol” when he was “assaulted” in the House of Commons shortly after midnight.

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Dec. 4, 1997: Reform MP Darrel Stinson vs. Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest The cameras didn’t quite catch it all, but fellow Reform Party MPs could be heard urging Mr. Stinson (pictured) to stop moving aggressively in Mr. Charest’s direction. The PC leader had called the Member for North Okanagan-Shuswap a bigot. “What? You’re going to call me that?” Mr. Stinson shouted. A Globe and Mail report at the time said the MP advanced toward Mr. Charest, only to be restrained by a colleague. “I'm not going to sit here and let someone call me a bigot.” He then shouted an insult at Mr. Charest that ended with “ little fat little chubby little sucker.” | February, 1997: Reform MP Darrel Stinson vs. Liberal MP John Cannis “Let’s go right now,” Mr. Stinson fumed. The MPs were debating a criminal justice bill when Mr. Stinson accused Liberal MP John Cannis of calling him a racist. “Do you have the fortitude or the gonads to stand up and come up and come across here and say that to me, you son of a bitch?” Mr. Stinson yelled, before crossing the floor and challenging Mr. Cannis to a fight. The Liberal MP declined. “The people of Scarborough Centre did not elect me to come to Parliament, roll up my sleeves and pick a fist fight,” he said later.

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Oct. 23, 1980: Storming of the Speaker’s chair Described by the parliamentary rule book as “perhaps the worst scene in modern times,” several opposition MPs stormed the Speaker’s chair. The MPs were opposed to closure of debate on a motion to have a committee study a constitutional resolution. The House of Commons security team, on orders from the Sergeant-at-Arms, entered the chamber but stayed behind the curtains.

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