Commons F-bomb exchange mild compared to past rowdiness: Historian

Credits: REUTERS/Blair Gable


OTTAWA - As far as near donnybrooks go, the temper tantrum in the Commons this week was a mild display of naughty NDP and Tory MPs behaving badly.

Back when horses and buggies were fashionable, MPs regularly got rowdy in the House and sometimes things went beyond cussing, finger wagging and spilled Scotch.

"We're probably as well-behaved now as the House has ever been. It was much worse in the past," historian Ned Franks said.

The Queen's University professor emeritus said paper fights were commonplace in the 19th century at the end of parliamentary sessions.

"Sometimes a member who wasn't very nice would wrap his inkwell in paper," Franks said.

"This is a pretty heavy glass inkwell and he'd throw it across. There are tales of people getting pretty severely damaged by them."

Wednesday's trash-talking scuffle starred Tory House leader Peter Van Loan, NDP House leader Nathan Cullen and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Words - mostly F-bombs - were exchanged over the government's budget bill and a procedural issue on a previous vote the NDP wanted redone, which was refused.

Van Loan walked across the floor for a stern chat with Cullen when Mulcair unloaded with language that would make a sailor blush until others arrived to calm the pack and break up the huddle, witnesses say.

Van Loan apologized Thursday for using "inappropriate" language. The NDP did not.

Speaker Andrew Scheer has taken the matter under advisement.

Inkwells are no longer used in the Commons.

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