I can empathize with Justin Trudeau. Sometimes government MPs say truly galling things, and sometimes all you can do is to let loose a cuss to let the steam out of your ears.
Last week, Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Accord, to no-one’s great surprise but everyone’s collective shame. Megan Leslie, the NDP’s environment critic, was taking Peter Kent, the Environment Minister, to task about his conduct at the Durban climate meeting (in which he, as always, did absolutely nothing useful and stalled and hindered much progress). Kent then starting railing about Leslie’s lack of attendance at Durban, saying that if she was so concerned about what went on, she should’ve been there herself.
I’m sure you can all see the punchline coming a mile away, but of course it was Kent himself who explicitly prevented Leslie (and any other opposition MPs) from going in the first place.
At nearly all international climate talks before Durban, Canada’s official delegation has included members from both the government and opposition parties. Kent of course got heckled from the opposition, and in the heckling, Trudeau shouted “You piece of shit!” at Kent. He then apologized afterwards.
I know there are rules about Parliamentary decorum, and I know it’s considered bad form to cuss people out in the House, but I’m actually pretty pleased about this. I’m glad that Trudeau is clearly so angry about this: we desperately need more passionate anger throughout Canadian politics. Harper’s government is characterized by stonefaced speeches with no passion, no drive, and no soul. The policies coming out of the government match the speeches, and this robotic approach to governance is turning Canadians away from politics and government. But we need more Canadians getting passionately angry about what’s going on in Parliament if we’re going to turn this bus of a country around, and having people in Parliament moved to swearing in anger and indignation means we’ve got backup.
I should note too that it was Trudeau, a few weeks back, who asked Kent if he knew what ozone was. Kent talked around the question and refused to answer it directly, which leads me to think that he truly doesn’t know what it is, since it’s not like that’s a controversial question to answer. It’s not like everyone everywhere must know what ozone is, but considering that it’s a major part of atmospheric chemistry which plays a significant role both as a shield against UV radiation and also as a greenhouse gas, the Minister of the Environment is one of those people. (Ozone is a variant of molecular oxygen, with three oxygen atoms bonded together instead of the usual two. It’s less stable than O2, exists primarily in the high atmosphere, and without it we’d all be burnt to a crisp from the UV radiation.)
So we’ve got a Minister of Science who doesn’t believe in evolution and an Environment Minister who doesn’t know what ozone is. Is it any wonder we’re regressing with regards to climate issues? And is it any wonder our Parliamentarians are resorting to cussing because no other words express just how frustrating and infuriating the situation has become?