OTTAWA, May 19 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for grabbing and elbowing House of Commons lawmakers during a vote on a controversial assisted-suicide bill.
Trudeau purposefully walked through a crowd of arguing lawmakers on the floor of the legislature Wednesday to escort Conservative parliament member Gordon Brown to his seat. As Trudeau grabbed Brown by the arm, he elbowed New Democrat Party parliament member Ruth Ellen Brosseau. All of this as members of parliament rushed to the floor in a heated exchange.
"What kind of man elbows a woman? It's pathetic! You're pathetic!" one member of parliament could be heard shouting.
"I admit I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm, including someone behind me who I did not see," Trudeau said after the crowd settled. "If anyone feels that they were impacted by my actions, I completely apologize. It was not my intention to hurt anyone."
Trudeau said his intention was to hurry lawmakers back to their seats so they could proceed with an important vote. Brown later told The Recorder and Times he told Trudeau to let go of him.
"I was trying to start the vote, the prime minister grabbed my arm. I immediately told the prime minister to let go of me -- now," Brown said. "Immediately afterward, the prime minister went back down the aisle of the House to confront other members of opposition parties."
Brosseau said she was so overwhelmed by the event, she had to leave and miss an important vote.
Even with the apology, there was backlash from lawmakers, many who took to Twitter and other social media.
Opposition leader Rona Ambrose said Trudeau's actions were "shocking" and demonstrated "a complete lack of respect for members of the House of Commons, and for Parliament."
"In my nearly twelve years as a member of parliament, I have never seen a fellow member -- let alone a prime minister -- act as disrespectfully and recklessly toward his colleagues, or toward Parliament, as I did this evening," she said on Facebook. "No one should ever have to deal with this kind of behaviour in any workplace. The fact that it's the prime minister of Canada is embarrassing. He should be ashamed of his actions."
New Democrat Niki Ashton said she watched Trudeau "manhandle the whip of the official opposition."
"I am ashamed to be a witness to the person who holds the highest position in our country do such an act."
Tensions have been high all week in the House of Commons as lawmakers debate controversial legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. If passed, the law would allow assisted suicides to Canadians with serious or incurable illnesses using medications provided by a physician or nurse practitioner.