An exclusive interview with the Caribbean Camera.
Gregory Fergus speaks about his new role as Speaker of the House
Meet Gregory Cristophe Fergus, Canada’s first Black Speaker of the House of Commons.
Fergus, 54, Member of Parliament for the riding of Hull-Aylmer since October 2015, was elected Speaker last September following the resignation of Anthony Rota, the previous speaker, who had caused an international uproar over his actions during the recent visit to the House of Commons by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Rota had invited a veteran who served in a Nazi unit in the Second World War to the House of Commons chamber, and asked parliamentarians and dignitaries to applaud the man as a hero.
Fergus, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada, has been an advocate for the Black Community both as co-chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus and head of the Liberal Black Caucus.
In a recent interview with The Caribbean Camera, he spoke about how he saw his new role as the 38th Speaker of the House of Commons.
“It really doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you look like or who you believe or who you love. It is just that you have what matters between your ears and, and how you can contribute. That is the only real qualification that people should be looking at,” he said.
“It might be another glass ceiling broken but it’s one which I think really speaks to the Canada we all love and live in,” he added.
He noted that “many people think that because I’ve become Speaker, I am no longer their Member of Parliament and I have to correct them and let them know that there’s no way that I could be Speaker without being a Member of Parliament.
“My office is still at work for them and I’m still at work for them. The only difference is that I cannot speak on current issues that’s before the House,” he said.
Asked about the job of keeping order in the House, Speaker Fergus said “the only thing I can really do up in the chair is to create the environment for members to be able to speak freely, passionately but respectfully to each other.
“And when they do not, you take a pause, take a time out until people are able to gain a measure of self control so that we are able to continue with the proceedings of the House.
“You’re not going find anybody more patient than I am. Patience is useful for raising kids. It’s useful for engaging in heated debate. So you’re not likely to get a rise out of me.”
Discussing his Caribbean roots, Fergus said his father is from Montserrat and his mother from Jamaica.
Shortly after he was elected Speaker, he met with the Prime Minister of St.Kitts-Nevis.
“It was very kind of the Prime Minister of St.Kitts-Nevis to request the meeting. He came to see me in company with the former prime minister of St.Kitts-Nevis and the current Foreign Affairs minister of that country,” Fergus said.
“We had a wonderful discussion about Canada-CARICOM relations – the importance of Canada engaging more deeply with CARICOM countries,” he added.