Greg Fergus intends to remain as the House of Commons Speaker despite calls from the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois to resign due to his breach of impartiality. He apologized Monday while in Washington D.C., citing miscommunication about the video’s intended use.
The Speaker is facing severe criticism for his participation in a video tribute shown at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention, which led to many MPs questioning the non-partisan nature of his role as Speaker, as previously reported by True North.
Despite the calls for resignation, Fergus told CBC he won’t resign, saying he plans to demonstrate fairness and impartiality.
The video showed Fergus in the Speaker’s office, wearing his official Speaker’s robes while paying tribute to interim Ontario Liberal leader John Fraser. Fergus said the video was not intended to be broadcast at the event.
Shortly after the video controversy, Fergus travelled to Washington.
“Following weeks of planning, Speaker Fergus will spend two days in Washington, D.C., carrying out the diplomatic portion of the Speaker’s role. He will be meeting with members of the diplomatic community and elected officials from both sides of the aisle,” said Mathieu Gravel, a spokesperson at Fergus’ office.
Fergus is expected to remain in Washington until Wednesday evening. During his trip, he will be taking part in a number of meetings, namely with former US Speakers Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy.
An additional video of Fergus was revealed on Tuesday, a day after he apologized. The video showed the Speaker in Washington reminiscing about his time as head of the Young Liberals. The video has resulted in additional criticism of the Speaker.
The Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party have both called for Fergus’s resignation, while the NDP acknowledged that Fergus’ video reflected poor judgment but agreed with the Liberals that MPs should accept his apology and move on.
Andrew Scheer, former Speaker of the House and Conservative House Leader, emphasized the importance of maintaining the non-partisan nature of the Speaker’s role.
The Conservative Party’s leader, Pierre Poilievre, echoed Scheer’s comments.
“All neutrality is gone. He must resign,” said Poilievre in his post.
In a previous interview with True North, Scheer noted that while every MP is elected through a party, Fergus came from a history of hyper-partisan roles, such as the president of the Liberal Party and the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.
“Given his background, he should have gone above and beyond to make sure he wasn’t showing any signs of partisan activity,” said Scheer.
Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois, has also condemned Fergus’ actions, stating that the Speaker has “failed” to maintain the essential impartiality of his role.
“He cannot stay,” Blanchet said to reporters. “It should be fixed as soon as possible for it not to become a distraction in Parliament.”
Despite the uproar, Government House Leader Karina Gould has expressed confidence in Fergus’ ability to continue in his role.
“We have a tradition in this place that once somebody apologizes, we accept that, and we move on,” she said on her way to cabinet.