Chain reaction: Canadian MP complains about minister's video bike backdrop

Chain reaction: Canadian MP complains about minister’s video bike backdrop
© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

A conservative Canadian MP has accused the country’s environment minister of breaching parliamentary protocol after his bicycle appeared on screen during a hybrid session of parliament.

Conservative MP Ed Fast said minister Steven Guilbeault’s purple bicycle, hung on the wall behind him, was a blatant attempt to “make a statement about his environmental cred”.

“Mr Speaker, the point is, there’s a rule that you cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly. What the minister has done is blatantly use a prop because he’s now doing it from the safety of some other office,” said Fast.

Chain reaction: Canadian MP complains about minister’s video bike backdrop
© Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, addresses a news conference via video with the offending bicycle in the background.

Guilbeault is a former Greenpeace activist who once scaled Toronto’s CN tower to unfurl a banner that read “Canada and Bush Climate Killers” and was arrested soon after.

His appointment as minister of environment and climate change has drawn the ire of Conservatives, who accuse him of being too radical and threatening to the country’s oil sector.

But Fast’s comments about the bicycle prompted derision in the House. New Democratic party member Daniel Blaikie rose in the House of Commons to say “only a Conservative could see a bicycle as partisan symbol.”

A member of the Bloc Québécois joked that Guilbeault probably attended parliament virtually because he had a flat tyre.

Guilbeault later addressed the issue on Twitter, asking if he should also remove his “dangerous props” like books and plants.

“The bike has been there long before we started doing virtual parliament. In fact, it has also been there for months as I was taking questions as heritage minister. Strange that after almost a year, it’s become an issue,” he wrote.

“Honestly, I didn’t have ‘triggered by bicycles’ on my bingo card here,” tweeted Max Fawcett, a political commentator, as the row shifted to social media.

The vehicle in question, a single-speed steel frame hand-built by the legendary Montreal-based Cycles Marinoni, drew praise from online bicycle connoisseurs.

Speaker Anthony Rota told lawmakers earlier in the day that the use of props was “contrary to our rules and practices” but did not comment on the appropriateness of bicycles.

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