The world of Canadian politics nearly exploded on Wednesday as eye witnesses claim Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair nearly punched one another in the House of Commons.
Reports came streaming in via Twitter around 6 p.m. in Ottawa, indicating that the two party leaders engaged in a vicious back-and-forth after a tense week of arguing of debate procedures in the Commons. Trudeau reportedly "manhandled" Tory whip Gordon Brown, then accidentally elbowed an NDP MP in the chest.
A frustrated Trudeau was attempting to nudge Brown along out of the way of opposition MPs who were delaying a vote to shut down debate on doctor-assisted death legislation. It was at that point that Trudeau accidentally knocked NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau who was standing behind him. NDP MP Tracey Ramsey said that Trudeau told the other parliamentarians to "get the bleep out of the way" as he tried to move Brown forward.
Videos of the altercation showed shouting and some unparliamentary language that followed after Mulcair confronted Trudeau.
"What kind of man elbows a woman. It's pathetic. You're pathetic," Mulcair yelled out to Trudeau as the two men stood face to face, before others intervened to separate them.
Brosseau later said that she was so upset about the physical contact that she left the Commons and didn't participate in the vote.
"I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister, and then I had to leave," a stunned Brosseau later told the Commons.
Trudeau responded by apologizing "unreservedly" for his behaviour.
"I want to take the opportunity now that the member is okay to return to the House right now to be able to express directly to her, my apologies for my behaviour and my actions," Trudeau said. "I apologize for that unreservedly and I look for opportunities to make amends directly to (Brosseau) and to any members who feel negatively impacted by this intervention, because I take responsibility."
One Twitter user even called for the PM's removal from the House of Commons.
The motion to limit the debate about the legislation on doctor-assisted death was ultimately defeated, but not before the altercation took place.
"I witnessed as (Trudeau) strode across the floor with anger fierce in his eyes and face," said Conservative MP Peter Van Loan in the Commons, pointing his finger at the government MPs.
NDP MP Niki Ashton, who was sitting next to Van Loan in the Commons said Trudeau pushed Brosseau into a desk with his elbow.
But Liberal MPs and Green leader Elizabeth May said the opposition members were exaggerating about what happened.
"I have to say that I saw the prime minister approaching and following (Brosseau) trying to reach her and saying how very sorry he was. He had not seen her behind him. That is the truth. Now you can like it or you can not like it but nothing that happened here today, reflects well on us," May said in the Commons. "We do not want to be the House of Commons for some country that other countries watch on CNN and wonder what's become of us. We are grownups."
Social media users have already mocked the scenario, calling it the "cat fight of the year."