Members of Parliament from the Conservative Party and Bloc Quebecois are calling for the resignation of Greg Fergus, the Speaker of the House of Commons.
The calls for resignation follow Fergus’ controversial appearance in a video at the leadership election for the Ontario Liberal Party, sparking widespread criticism and raising questions about the non-partisan nature of his position.
Dressed in his official Speaker’s robes and filmed in his office, Fergus’ appearance has been deemed inappropriate by MPs.
Andrew Scheer, a former Speaker of the House and Conservative House Leader, wrote a letter to Fergus and published the letter to X (formerly Twitter). Scheer’s letter deemed the conduct unacceptable, saying that it defied all longstanding traditions and expectations attached to the role of Speaker.
“This is incredibly inappropriate to have a person who fulfills a non-partisan, impartial role in the House of Commons participate in a political leadership election convention,” Scheer said in an interview with True North. “It undermines the trust that members have in the position of Speaker and is very damaging to the institution.”
The Conservatives have officially called on the Speaker to resign.
Scheer explained that in his 20 years as a member and Speaker of the House, he had never seen a similar situation.
Alain Therrien, the Bloc MP for La Prairie, echoed these sentiments, calling on Fergus to resign as Speaker of the House of Commons, according to CBC Radio-Canada.
While the New Democratic Party (NDP) hasn’t asked for Fergus to resign, one MP criticized his actions.
“He says he did it in a personal capacity, but he wore the toga of Speaker of the House. There’s a real mix-up between partisanship, friendship, and the institution of Parliament. The Speaker represents all of us and has no business making this kind of appearance,” said NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice.
Scheer explained that the trust required for a Speaker in the House of Commons has been broken. Speakers need to be trusted to deliver non-partisan rulings, as there is no appeal mechanism or vote on the decisions. When the Speaker makes a ruling, members have to trust that this ruling is based on precedent and not the Speaker’s own partisanship.
Scheer said it will be very difficult for the Speaker to continue to maintain the overall trust of the House with two parties now calling for the Speaker’s resignation.
“If Mr. Fergus wants to put the institution of Parliament and the integrity of the Speaker’s role ahead of any other consideration, I hope he’ll do the right thing and resign,” he said.
Fergus’ office defended the video as non-partisan, stating that it was intended to honour a longstanding colleague and friend.
“We asked Speaker Fergus to record a personal message for John Fraser, which will be broadcast as part of a tribute video to a colleague and friend from the National Capital Region whom he has known for many decades. The video recognizes Mr. Fraser’s dedication to public service and is in no way partisan in nature,” said a spokesperson.
“That said, the Speaker is aware of how this message may have been perceived and recognizes the need to protect the Speaker’s impartial and non-partisan role. He will exercise greater diligence in the future and will continue, as his record shows, to demonstrate impartiality in his role inside and outside the House,” the spokesperson added.
In a post to X, former Interim Ontario Liberal leader John Fraser thanked Fergus for his words and suggested that it may not have been clear to the Speaker where and when the message would be broadcast.
Fergus was elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons on October 3. The prior Speaker, Anthony Rota, was forced to resign after honouring a Ukrainian veteran who fought with the Nazis; this incident occurred during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Parliament.