Canadian PM campaigning against bullying - but is he bullying others?
Canadian PM campaigning against bullying – but is he bullying others?
There was recently an incident in the Canadian Parliament, in which a vote was being delayed. The delay was making Prime Minister Justin Trudeau frustrated, and as happens to all of us under these conditions, his “Fight, Flight or Freeze” response kicked in. He approached a knot of MPs, in the middle of which was the Conservative Whip, Gord Brown, being blocked – this is a well-known technique to delay a vote, much like filibustering in the USA.

There are no doubt well-known techniques for overcoming a block as well. But Trudeau waded in to the crowd, took Brown by the arm, and led him out of the crowd. The media caught the entire scene. During the confusion, he bumped into MP Mary Ellen Brousseau, who claimed to have been elbowed in the chest, and who subsequently left the room, feeling overwhelmed.

It’s difficult to make Trudeau look good over this incident. But he has been accused of bullying for this, and that’s where we come in. Bullying is widely understood to have the following characteristics:

– repeated behaviors
– behaviors designed for an aggressor to exercise power over others
– behaviors intended to hurt and/or show contempt


Click here to see No Such Thing as a Bully Definition. It’s very specific and mindful.


Do you really believe that a sitting chief executive of one of the greatest countries on earth would “intend to hurt and or show contempt,” even to sworn political enemies, while covered by the national media? We don’t.

Why don’t we believe it? Because when kids are bullying, they don’t want everyone to see it happening. They don’t want to show contempt to their classmates in front of teachers, parents, the principal, or the police. It’s because they know deep down that what they are doing is wrong.

Trudeau admitted before all of Parliament, and to the national media, that he acted wrongly by taking aggressive physical action on the Parliament floor. But had he really wanted to bully either Brown or Brousseau, he would’ve been quieter about it, hoping not to be caught. That’s not what happened here.

What happened was the “Fight, Flight or Freeze” response that we all have inside of us, that kicks in when we are frustrated or afraid. We inherit it from our ancestors, who at times were threatened by war or plague; it’s also found throughout the animal kingdom, when predators are near.

The “Fight, Flight or Freeze” response causes us to take quick, but not careful or measured, action. And it can result in bumps and bruises. Those are usually not intentional, even if it seems that an aggressor takes joy in them. (And Trudeau didn’t.)  Those involved in this particular situation have the choice of acting the victim or, in this case, shaking it off and completing their work. Newscasters, and even other MPs, ramp up the drama in their role as bystanders. They assign thought patterns to others, digging into their history to distort the present events.

The liberals were supposed to bring back civility to the House of Commons. How will they… do that now?

“Trudeau used to be a boxer, and he’s taking off his gloves.” (There are a lot of memes floating around referencing this one!)


Early Trudeau meme
Early Trudeau meme


The drama, the gossip, they don’t help, and they don’t show our kids how to be good bystanders. We were impressed with Trudeau’s apology. No Such Thing as a Bully promotes a clear course of action when accepting responsibility for one’s actions, and Trudeau lives that standard in this apology.


Click here to get more information about the 3 R’s: restitution, resolution, reconciliation. You’ll learn how to help your child recover from a bullying incident.


At No Such Thing as a Bully, we believe that all people use both bully actions and victim responses. One set of skills solves both. That’s what is happening here. If we, as the world, as a society can learn to embrace our own ways of behaving and make changes where changes make sense, and apologies where apologies are needed, the world would be a better place. It’s just not that complicated.

And To our Esteemed Prime Minister…Sometimes you have to just stay in your seat and breathe  in through your nose, and out through your mouth,  envisioning the productive steps to change that you’re going to implement.

O Canada.