Canada PM Justin Trudeau: I'm sorry for manhandling parliament members

Opposition: Canadian PM 'elbowed' female lawmaker
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Story highlights

  • Trudeau grabbed one lawmaker, then accidentally elbowed another
  • Lawmaker: "Physical force in this house is never permitted"

(CNN)It was only a matter of time.

Since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada last November, he seemed -- at least in the public's eyes -- capable of doing no wrong.
    The world was clearly enjoying a love-affair with the young, charismatic leader.
    But the Prime Minister was caught in a storm of controversy Wednesday afternoon when frustrations in the House of Commons saw Trudeau grabbing one lawmaker and then, accidentally elbowing another.
    The altercation occurred when members had gathered for a vote on a controversial assisted-dying bill.
    Trudeau, impatient to get the vote started, is seen on video striding over to Opposition whip Gordon Brown. He grabs Brown's arm to direct him to his seat. New Democrat Party (NDP) Parliament member Ruth Ellen Brosseau gets elbowed by Trudeau in the process.

    'This is not Canada'

    It immediately created an uproar with several MPs rushing to the floor and exchanging heated words.
    NDP House leader Peter Julian immediately criticized Trudeau for manhandling Brown.
    "Physical force in this house is never permitted, is never welcomed and it is entirely inappropriate," Julian said. "The actions of the prime minister I have never seen any member of the house act toward another member or members as he just did, Mr. Speaker."
    "There is not a parallel in contemporary Canadian history. We hear about members becoming physical in other countries but that is not Canada," Julian also said.
    The quarrel upset Brosseau enough that she left and missed the vote.

    Trudeau apologizes

    Quick to realize his mistake, Trudeau offered up several apologies to Brosseau directly and publicly.
    "I noticed that the member, the Opposite member whip, was being impeded in his progress," Trudeau began expressing his remorse to the chamber, pausing due to intense murmuring from the crowd.
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    "I took it upon myself to go and assist him forward, which was I now see unadvisable as a course of action, and resulted in physical contact in this house that we can all accept was unacceptable and I apologize for that unreservedly," he said.
    To be sure, the breakdown of civility is not excusable -- especially not for someone who holds elected office.
    But it was a very Canadian "brawl" -- that is, really not much of one, especially compared to the rumbles seen in other parliaments around the world.
    And at the very least, it served as a good reminder to the world that Trudeau's human too.