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The Canadian Parliament’s List of Banned Words Is Bullshit

As if we needed more evidence parliament is white and stodgy, you can't even say "pompous ass."

Hero? Photo via Facebook

American politics have many of us feeling like the four horsemen of the apocalypse are right around the corner.

But luckily, here in Canada, our government "scandals" offer a soothing antidote to all that drama. Why? Because they're boring as hell, and reliably so, I might add.

Take for example the "controversy" over inappropriate language that has taken parliament by storm in the last week.

In case your eyes glazed over when you saw the headlines, like mine do when question period is on, the first involved Conservative MP Michelle Rempel. While delivering a feisty 10-minute-speech in the House of Commons about unemployment in her home province of Alberta, Rempel uttered the following:


"Why does the government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge? That is where my constituents have been with the present government for over a year. We are tired of it."

In the world of Canadian politics I guess that counts as "shots fired." Because immediately afterward, Green party leader Elizabeth May demanded Rempel "withdraw" the comment.

"I heard her say a word that I know is distinctly unparliamentary, and I think she may want to withdraw it. The word was f-a-r-t," said a straight-faced May, spelling out the offensive (!) word in the same manner parents talk about Santa in front of their kids.

The "fart" heard round parliament. Video via Youtube

Rempel mocked May (rightly imo) and later tweeted, "this is the craziest, most useless, out of touch intervention from another MP that I've ever experienced in my experience in public service."

But the language wars didn't end there. They picked up during Monday's question period, when Bloc Québécois MP Simon Marcil, used the word "bullshit" to rant about the government's cheese policy in Quebec. According to the National Post, the phrasing "caused a visible stir among MPs," who I guess only watch animated kids' movies?

It turns out that "bullshit" is in fact on the list of words that are considered "unparliamentary language" and can't be used in the House of Commons. And so Marcil, who withdrew his remark somewhat sarcastically, has effectively been gagged for the next little while.


If you are still reading and not desperately watching that neo-Nazi "Heil Trump" video in an effort to feel something again, let's consider for a moment that "bullshit" and "fart" are probably words that a 10-year-old could get away with saying. Like, if my future children don't say "fart" I will assume they are doomed to be lame and will divorce them over irreconcilable differences.

But it gets even better. Because according to this list of parliament's banned words and phrases, compiled by iPolitics, there are far more ridiculous entries.

Some of them actually date back to the 1800s, including: "A bag of wind" (they reallllly don't like flatulence); "scarcely entitled to be called gentlemen"; "coming into the world by accident"; talking twaddle; and "blatherskite."

I admit I had to look up "blatherskite" and it's actually "a person who talks at great length without making much sense," so basically Donald Trump.

Anyway, now that you're hooked, let's go through some of the sassier ones: "the political sewer pipe from Carleton County; "Canadian Mussolini" (Hi, Harper); "idiot"; "ignoramus"; "pompous ass"; "to hell with Parliament attitude"; "sick animal."

(While we are on the topic, shoutout to our current PM Justin Trudeau who once called a fellow MP a "piece of shit.")

Kinda miss this version of Trudeau. Video via Youtube

And in a final category I'll call "normal words" we have things like: "false"; "hypocritical"; "illegal"; "crook"; "deliberately misleading"; "deceive"; "dishonest."

Apparently, over the years, a bunch of these terms, including sexy stuff like "smokescreen" were deemed acceptable after all.

But if "bullshit" is still worthy of censure… Let's just say that when I started working at VICE, a friend told me that I could never get into politics now. And based on this puritan list (plus my column on masturbating), I'd say they were right.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.