Embattled House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus says he made a “grave mistake” in videotaping the Ontario Liberal Party convention, an act that has spurred calls for him to step down from his supposed impartial role. I put it on.
“I deeply regret this and I want to reassure members that something like this will never happen again,” he told the House of Commons on Friday morning.
Fergus has been at the center of controversy since earlier this month when he filmed a 105-second video in his office wearing the Speaker’s robe to pay tribute to outgoing Ontario Liberal Party interim leader John Fraser.
His comments on the floor Friday came a day after most members of the House committee investigating his conduct recommended disciplinary action against him. The committee also asked Mr Fergus to apologize in the House of Commons and pay a fine.
However, the decision was not unanimous. Conservative and Bloc Quebecois committee members called for Mr. Fergus to resign, claiming he had lost the confidence of both parties.
In Canada, the Speaker of the House of Commons is required to significantly limit his partisan activities once he takes office. The Speaker does not attend caucus meetings, vote in the House (except in the case of ties), or participate in debates.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the members who have so generously given me a second chance as Speaker of the House,” Fergus said.
“To those members who are against second chances, let me say that I understand your point of view and will spare no effort to restore your trust.”
Mr Fergus previously told MPs on the Parliamentary Affairs and Home Affairs Committee that he made the video while dashing between two meetings. He said the video was intended as a private message to his long-time friend Mr Fraser and should never have been released publicly.
Mr Fergus said in a speech on Friday that his office would introduce “more stringent communication protocols to protect the neutral role of the chair”. He also said any future requests would be subject to “intense scrutiny.”
“It is essential that the Speaker be impartial and nonpartisan – in every action, every gesture, every appearance,” he said.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
Scheer advances motion calling for election of new chair
The Conservative Party criticized the apology, calling it “completely meaningless”.
“Greg Fergus is unfit to serve as an impartial Speaker of the House of Commons,” Sébastien Skamski, Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poièvre’s media director, said in a media statement.
“He must resign in order to restore fairness and impartiality to the chair.”
Hours after Fergus apologized, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer tabled a motion declaring that the House of Commons no longer had confidence in the speaker and a new speaker must be chosen.
He asked that his motion be prioritized, but Assistant Deputy Speaker Carol Hughes disagreed. The House adjourned for vacation Friday afternoon, meaning Scheer’s motion will not be considered until late January.
Scheer said Fergus also attended another partisan event in November. On Thursday, he distributed to the media copies of Pontiac Liberal MP Sophie Chatel’s Instagram post in which she attended a partisan event with Fergus and Andre Fortin, a Quebec multinational MP. said.
A translation of a Facebook post inviting people to the Nov. 16 event describes it as “Cocktails with Andre Fortin,” and says “activists from our constituency” will be “in our region, in my We will discuss our party and your priorities.”
The chairman’s office issued a statement saying Mr Fergus’s attendance at Fortin’s mixer, which preceded the introduction of “a new protocol requiring consultation with clerks”, was a night for the chairman’s riding. It was a “free event,” he said.
NDP suggests Scheer also violated chair rules
Also on Thursday, the NDP cited three instances showing Mr. Scheer also participated in partisan Conservative party fundraising events during his time as chair from June 2, 2011 to December 2, 2015. He claimed to have submitted it.
The first shared event was a skeet shooting and dinner in Regina in August 2011, costing $125 per person or $50 for dinner only. A special guest at the event was then-Minister of Agriculture Jerry Ritts, who represented Saskatchewan riding in the Battlefords Lloydminster.
The second event, a shooting and skeet fundraiser, was held in June 2014 and cost $175 per person, or $85 for dinner only. The third event was held in June 2015 and had similar ticket prices.
Skamski said Fergus was participating in fundraisers for “liberal colleagues, not on his own horse,” while Scheer said “within a year, and after a year, things will change.” .It’s election period.”
The 2011 Shoot & Skeet with Ritz fundraiser took place three weeks after Scheer was elected chair.
“This is not something that any member of the House should be involved in,” said NDP Majority Leader Peter Julian.
“The precedent that Mr. Scheer has set is that partisan fundraising involving the Speaker of the House is OK… It’s not acceptable to everyone.”