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Speaker of the House Geoff Regan ruled Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre was out-of-order at Wednesday’s question period, during Opposition interrogation of the government for its dealings with China – at issue, the term “little potato”.
“When leaders in China dismissed this prime minister as quote ‘little potato’ he thought they meant it as a compliment,” Poilievre began, causing Regan to interject.
“I would like to remind the member that he can’t do indirectly what he can’t do directly…(and) to avoid terms that might be considered insulting,” Regan told the House, precipitating jeers from Opposition benches.
It’s not the first time Poilievre has used the term in the House of Commons, and Regan said he’d “heard the phrase enough” before ruling on Conservative house leader Candice Bergen’s point of clarification at QP’s close.
“I don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese,” Regan replied. “But it certainly didn’t seem to be a compliment…those are the rules.”
The “little potato” nickname for Trudeau was headline news back in 2016 at the beginning of the PM’s trip to China for that year’s G20. Bergen reminded Regan that Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and the rest of “(the government) at the time thought it was a compliment.”
Maybe not so much.
Back when Chinese were referring to then-rookie U.S. President as “Donald the strong“, Trudeau was viewed by the same dictatorship’s street as a slice off the old potato-block, or ‘Tuduo’ block.
As Freeland explained to a CNBC reporter from the floor of the trade summit, the “little potato” moniker was Mandarin homonym for Trudeau surname: Tudou.
Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau first visited the communist dictatorship on official Canadian business as PM in 1973, in the wake of then-U.S. President Richard Nixon’s historic outreach the year prior.