Speaker Greg Fergus will stay on after ouster vote fails

Click to play video: 'Renewed calls for House Speaker Fergus to resign'
Renewed calls for House Speaker Fergus to resign
The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois are calling for House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus to resign. He was elected as a Liberal MP, but is supposed to be neutral in his current role. David Akin explains what Fergus is being accused of, and how the Liberals and NDP are reacting – May 21, 2024

House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus will stay on in the job after a Conservative push to oust him failed Tuesday evening.

The vote seeking to oust him came after the deputy Speaker ruled that allegations of partisan behaviour require urgent attention.

This stemmed from a May 21 question of privilege raised by Alberta Conservative MP Chris Warkentin over allegedly partisan advertising used ahead of a constituency event hosted by Fergus.

In his ruling, Deputy Speaker Chris D’Entremont said he “did not expect” to have to rule on a question of privilege involving the Speaker.

“In ruling on this matter, I would like to clarify that I am not passing judgment on the alleged facts but rather on the priority these allegations should be given,” D’Entremont said Monday.

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“Quite clearly, it is in the interest of the whole House to resolve this particular matter quickly and with all due seriousness. As a result, I find that a prima facie question of privilege exists in this case.”

Fergus appeared before the House of Commons procedure committee Tuesday, which is looking into issues of harassment in Parliament. During the meeting, Ontario Conservative MP Jamil Jivani asked Fergus directly about the motion to oust him.

“The story for the fundraising event and the highly partisan language used was that it went out in error and that it was a commonly used template. Have you been given assurances from the Liberal Party that this is, in fact, the story, and that this template was widely used by other MPs?” Jivani asked.

“So you’ll forgive me, Mr. Jivani, but this is a matter which is before the House. I wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on it right now before the House pronounces on this,” Fergus replied.

The advertising for the event included a political attack on Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, saying his “reckless policies” would risk the health, safety and pocketbooks of Canadians.

“The Speaker has demonstrated countless times that he is unfit to be a non-partisan Speaker. He is a very effective partisan Liberal. We have lost trust in his ability to govern this place,” Warkentin said Monday.

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Click to play video: 'House Speaker Greg Fergus faces calls to resign over controversial video'
House Speaker Greg Fergus faces calls to resign over controversial video

The language in the event details was automatically included based on a template for events posted to the website, said Liberal spokesman Parker Lund.

He said a miscommunication between the party and Fergus’s riding association led to the wrong text being put on the event’s details.

In response to Warkentin, Manitoba Liberal MP Kevin Lamouroux accused the Conservatives of “having it in” for Fergus.

“From day one, the Conservatives have actually not supported the Speaker. I find that unfortunate,” Lamoureux said Monday.

For the vote to oust Fergus to be successful, the Conservatives would have needed the support of both the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois.

The NDP did not support the motion as during debate on May 21, NDP House Leader Peter Julian challenged Warkentin’s “interpretation of events” and instead called on the Liberal Party to apologize to Fergus.

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During debate on Tuesday, Julian accused Conservative politicians broadly of attacking speakers. He pointed to an ongoing situation in Saskatchewan where Speaker Randy Weekes accused Saskatchewan Party cabinet minister Jeremy Harrison of intimidation and once bringing a gun into the legislature.

Premier Scott Moe initially called the allegations “unequivocally false” and suspected Weekes was feeling “sour grapes” after losing a contested nomination for the upcoming provincial election.

Harrison later admitted to bringing a rifle in a carrying case in to the legislature around a decade ago, and resigned as government house leader. Harrison says he did not initially remember doing this, but corrected the record once he recalled it. He remains Saskatchewan’s trade minister.

Julian then accused the Conservatives of using this motion to hold up debate on pharmacare legislation, a key NDP priority in their supply and confidence agreement with the Liberals.

The Bloc joined the Conservative call for Fergus’ resignation last Tuesday.

This was be the second time Fergus faced a vote to remove him from the Speaker’s office. The first took place in December after Fergus recorded a tribute video for outgoing Ontario Liberal interim leader John Fraser, while wearing his official robes inside the Speaker’s office.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Andrew Benson. 


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