OTTAWA — Ruth Ellen Brosseau says she has faced personal attacks since she was elbowed in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including that she should be “ashamed to be a woman” and that she is “not a feminist.”
In an exclusive interview Friday with The Canadian Press, the New Democrat MP said her office has received a number of phone calls from people across the country, many of them suggesting that she is “crying wolf.”
“My office has received countless phone calls … saying it is my fault, I should be ashamed, I should resign, I should apologize, it is my fault,” a visibly shaken Brosseau said during a conversation at her Ottawa office.
“I get elbowed in the breast and it hurts. It was very painful.”
Brosseau, who used to break up fights as a bartender before entering political life as the MP for a Quebec riding, said she never expected to have to deal with a situation like this once becoming a member of Parliament.
“I am a tough woman, I know how to stand up and deal with situations,” she said. “I was just shocked … I was overwhelmed.”
Footage from the Commons television feed showed Trudeau trying to pull Conservative whip Gord Brown through a crowd of MPs, including Brosseau, who were milling about in hopes of delaying a vote related to the bill on doctor-assisted dying, C-14.
In so doing, Trudeau collided with Brosseau, who could be seen reacting with visible discomfort as the Liberal leader pushed past her, forcing her against an adjacent desk.
New Democrats reported hearing the prime minister mutter, “’Get the f— out of the way.”’
Brosseau, who teared up several times during the interview, recalled how she felt herself beginning to cry in the immediate aftermath, and decided it would be best if she left the chamber immediately.
“I wasn’t going to go running after the prime minister,” she said. “I was shaking … it is completely inappropriate what happened.”
“The prime minister intentionally walked over, swore at us, reached between a few members of Parliament to grab the (Conservative) whip … how did he think he wasn’t going to hit anybody else?”
Brosseau said she has accepted Trudeau’s multiple apologies in the House, including in the moments immediately afterward as well as the following day, but noted that the prime minister has not contacted her directly.
Trudeau said he did not pay sufficient attention to his surroundings before making physical contact with Brosseau — something he regrets “profoundly.”
Brosseau, 32, said the scrutiny she has received since Wednesday’s encounter has been worse than in 2011, when as a rookie candidate she was publicly ridiculed for travelling to Las Vegas during the election campaign.
She also said it remains painful to have to justify what she experienced, adding she feels like she is being attacked from all sides when she insists she did nothing wrong.