Canada opposition leader calls Trudeau a 'wacko,' is ejected from chamber

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks as Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre listens during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

OTTAWA (Reuters) -The leader of Canada's main opposition party was ejected from the House of Commons on Tuesday after he called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "a wacko", in the latest clash between two men set to fight an election next year.

The official opposition right-of-center Conservatives are well ahead in the polls. The incident started when party leader Pierre Poilievre criticised what he called Trudeau's refusal to crack down on drug overdoses.

"When will we put an end to this wacko policy by this wacko prime minister?" he asked Trudeau in the House of Commons elected lower chamber.

Speaker Greg Fergus, a Liberal, told Poilievre the comment was both unparliamentary and unacceptable and asked him four times to withdraw it. Poilievre declined on each occasion, saying instead he would use the word extremist or radical.

Fergus told Poilievre he was disregarding the speaker's authority and, in an unusual move, said: "I order to you to withdraw from the House ... for the remainder of this day's sitting."

Poilievre, who left the chamber with his legislators, later repeated his attack on Trudeau's stance on drugs.

"This is a wacko policy from a wacko PM that's destroying lives," he said in a social media post.

Liberal parliamentarian Steven MacKinnon, in charge of government business in the House, told reporters the incident had been a disgrace and showed a disrespect for institutions.

Trudeau has a testy relationship with Poilievre, who he accuses of being an extremist and a supporter of the Make America Great Again movement of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trudeau had earlier spoken to reporters on Tuesday and accused Poilievre of spending time with far right groups.

"That is not responsible leadership. That is dangerous for democracy, it's dangerous for Canadians," he said.

Ejections from the House are relatively rare. The speaker's office was not immediately available to comment on the last time a leader of the official opposition had been booted out.

The next election must be held by late October 2025. Surveys of public opinion indicate the Conservatives would win a large majority over the center-left Liberals, who have been in power since November 2015.

(Reporting by Dale Smith; Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Josie Kao and Bill Berkrot)