Richards ejected from House of Commons

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Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards found himself ejected from the House of Commons Nov. 30 by Speaker of the House Geoff Regan for heckling when he repeatedly called out Finance Minister Bill Morneau during the afternoon Question Period.

Morneau was answering questions about his personal finances and an alleged breach of federal ethics law when Richards began calling out the senior minister and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who, Richards said, were both refusing to answer basic questions.

Richards said Question Period is filled with “inappropriate and unfortunate behaviours like dishonesty…nasty partisan and personal comments made about people.” He said the shouting, yelling and gesturing that was occurring was going unpunished.

“But I protested the fact that that was happening and I was punished. That to me seems completely inappropriate,” he said.

“The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister were just absolutely continuing to refuse to answer really, really basic straight-forward questions that they had the answers to but were refusing to answer. What they were doing instead were really, really partisan types of stuff on conservative members and I just felt that was completely inappropriate and nothing was being done about it.”

Richards said he doesn’t know why he was singled out and denies doing anything wrong. He said he plans to have a conversation with Regan to voice his concerns about the types of behaviour that are allowed to go unchecked and to discuss why he was the only one ejected from the House.

“I’ll leave others to judge whether the actions of the Speaker were correct in doing what he did, but I can say that people that were there, who saw it, all said to me that they were absolutely shocked and felt it was unwarranted,” he said. “All I was trying to do was stand up to expect accountability in the House of Commons and to expect the rules be enforced.”

Regan can be heard on the CPAC recording saying, “I know that there is a lot of heat here. Order. The honourable member for Banff-Airdrie will come to order or he can go outside, or be helped outside, which would he prefer?”

When Richards continues to call out Morneau, Regan repeats, “which would he prefer?” before asking the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove Richards from the House. Richards said he then left the House voluntarily. The ejection was only for the remainder of the session and he will be back at his spot in the House when it reconvenes.

Morneau has been under scrutiny by opposition MPs for his refusal to reveal the date he sold 680,000 shares of his family’s financial services company, Morneau Shepell. The timing of the sale is important because Morneau tabled a fiscal measure that would have decreased the value of the shares by five per cent a week after selling $10 million worth of shares.

Ejections from the House of Commons are very rare, the last taking place 15 years ago.

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