Canada PM Trudeau says 'I am human' after fracas, cites job pressures

Thu May 19, 2016 7:56pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Andrea Hopkins and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, under fire for getting involved in an unprecedented physical fracas in Parliament, said on Thursday that he was only human and in a high pressure job but promised there would be no repeat of his actions.

Trudeau, impatient at what he saw as stalling tactics by the opposition ahead of a vote on Wednesday evening, crossed the floor in the House of Commons to grab one legislator and drag him to his seat, accidentally elbowing another in the chest.

He has apologized three times already and said he would accept any punishment meted out by a special committee of legislators examining the incident.

"I think people understand that there is a tremendous amount of pressures that come with this job and I am human," Trudeau said in his Parliament Hill office, which was dotted with pictures of Trudeau, his family, and his former prime minister father as well as a Lego canoe with four miniature figures in it.

"But I think at the same time, a big part of recognizing strengths and weaknesses is when you make a mistake you admit it, you make amends, you ask for forgiveness and you make sure it never happens again."

The affair was a rare public loss of control for Trudeau, 44, who led his Liberals to power last October with a promise of "sunny ways", and dented his image. Telegenic and tattooed, Trudeau has gained a rock star level of celebrity thanks partly to an avowed feminist stance and he is often swarmed by fans seeking selfies.

"Quite frankly a lot of people said: 'Don't worry about it, everyone has bad days'. But the people who know me said 'OK, Justin, is there something bugging you? Is the atmosphere in the House getting particularly toxic?'" he said.

Trudeau said his response was that "you can't separate one from the other" but that he should have refrained from getting involved in the incident, which was gleefully dissected on Twitter with the hashtag #elbowgate and splashed on newspaper front pages across the country.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in an interview with Reuters in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie