Recently elected House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus apologized to MPs on Monday about a “personal” video tribute message played last weekend at the Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention.
But two opposition parties say that’s not enough and are now calling for him to resign over his “unacceptable” participation in a partisan event.
Fergus’ video tribute was for John Fraser, the outgoing interim provincial Liberal leader replaced by newly-elected Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie on Saturday.
It featured the relatively new Speaker in his office, dressed in his traditional robe. As the appearance hit social media, Conservatives were quick to condemn it, pointing to the importance of Canada’s Speaker remaining impartial.
On Monday’s sitting of the House of Commons, Fergus took the Speaker’s chair and told MPs that he was asked to make the video, but he thought it was to be played at an “intimate party for a long-standing friend who was retiring.”
Fergus, who was elected to represent a Quebec riding as a Liberal MP, said he “regrets” that instead, the “personal” message was played at a convention for a party he is not a member of, in a province he does not live in.
“It should not be seen as partisan to recognize a colleague’s departure. That said… I would like to apologize and reassure members that this kind of event will not happen again,” Fergus said.
Conservative House leader Andrew Scheer has called for a parliamentary committee to study the incident.
Scheer has asked that his case be assessed, and if Fergus’ assistant Speakers find that the “serious error of judgment” has undermined Fergus’ lead role, he’ll be moving a motion calling for the matter to be referred to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC) to assess what the “appropriate remedy” would be.
However, as debate continued with Deputy Speaker Chris d’Entremont presiding, calls were made for Fergus to resign.
While NDP MP Charlie Angus called the situation “serious,” the New Democrats didn’t take a position during the debate on whether Fergus should step aside, nor did any Liberal MPs.
After more than an hour, d’Entremont stated he felt that he has enough information to take the matter away for consideration and has vowed to get back to MPs “as quickly as possible” with his ruling.