Fuddle Duddle Day (Throwback Thursday)

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On February 16, 1971, a minor scandal occurred in the House of Commons when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was alleged to have spoken or mouthed “unparliamentary language”. When pressed by the media, Trudeau would only admit that he moved his lips. He answered the media’s question of what he was thinking when he moved his lips with a rhetorical question: “What is the nature of your thoughts, gentlemen, when you say ‘fuddle duddle’ or something like that?”

Cartoon by Canadian political cartoonist Blaine MacDonald, 1937-2012

So what constitutes “unparliamentary language”? Apparently it is left to the discretion of the Speaker. It generally includes profanity and suggestion of dishonesty. Here are a few examples of words and phrases ruled “unparliamentary” in the Parliament of Canada over the years, in addition to “fuddle duddle”:

  • parliamentary puglist (1875)
  • a bag of wind (1878)
  • inspired by forty-rod whiskey (1881)
  • the political sewer pipe (1917)
  • lacking in intelligence (1934)
  • a dim-witted saboteur (1956)
  • a trained seal (1961)
  • pompous ass (1967)
  • pig (1977)
  • jerk (1980)
  • sleaze bag (1984)
  • a piece of shit (used by none other than Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin Trudeau, 2011)




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