Letter to the editor
The recent events surrounding calls for the Hon. Greg Fergus’ resignation as Canada’s ﬁrst Black Speaker of the House of Commons point to the increasing dangers of hyperpartisanship facing our public institutions today.
House rules exist to protect the integrity of our legislative process. Those asking for the resignation of Speaker Fergus would have Canadians believe that Speakers who are elected to this role have never had party afﬁliation. While all agree that the Speaker must remain neutral and impartial, there is a wide chasm between Speaker Fergus’ conduct and unhealthy partisan behaviour. The misstep in the course of delivering a farewell to a longtime friend and colleague does not warrant a call for immediate removal.
This type of caustic hyperpartisanship demonstrated by members of the opposition has the real potential of discouraging people from seeking public ofﬁce, particularly those who come from underrepresented communities.
Just last month, Canadians and Operation Black Vote Canada lauded the historic election and its particular impact on our youth and future generations. The seeds we plant today will grow into the Speakers, Chief Justices, Cabinet Mnisters and Senators of tomorrow.”
Yet despite the inspirational and aspirational elements of that historic election, many stand ready to cast it all aside and walk back on our progress. Are there no other remedies or available options for opposition parties to register their displeasure? Does the most extreme consequence truly have to be the ﬁrst and only one explored?
This reinforces the lived experience of many Black Canadians of being held to a higher standard than those around us. Perfection is the rule. There is no room for error. And the tightrope that we walk on the way to success can be cut at any moment. This trend not only undermines the integrity of our institutions but also perpetuates a culture of exclusivity that for far too long has told us who and who does not belong.
It is our hope that the House Committee tasked with review will apply a historical, contextual, and equitable lens to their work and not seek to score partisan points simply because the opportunity has presented itself. The stakes are too high, the joumey has been too long, and Canada’s progress cannot be sacriﬁced on the altar of partisanship.
Operation Black Vote Canada