Speaker Greg Fergus apologizes in House of Commons again for partisan video

By The Canadian Press

The Speaker of the House of Commons apologized once again on Friday for filming a video played at a partisan event, after a parliamentary committee had called on him to show more contrition.

“I made a serious mistake,” Speaker Greg Fergus, a Liberal MP who represents a riding in western Quebec, told the House of Commons on Friday.

He said he should never have recorded the video in tribute to John Fraser, the outgoing interim leader of the Ontario Liberals, whom he referred to as “a friend who is an active politician.” The video was played at the provincial party’s leadership convention early this month.

He also said he should not have been wearing his ceremonial robes or have the video shot while in his Speaker’s office on Parliament Hill.

“I am deeply sorry,” he said, adding he wanted to reassure members of Parliament that it would never happen again.

The procedure and House affairs committee said in a report released Thursday that there should be clearer guidelines for future Speakers about the impartiality of their role.

The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois MPs on the committee called for Fergus to resign, but Liberals and New Democrats, who held the majority, instead endorsed a call for him to apologize again and reimburse Parliament for resources used to film the video.

Fergus said his office is putting in place a “more rigorous” communications protocol. He thanked those who were giving him “a second chance.” To those who had demanded he resign, Fergus said: “I can understand your point of view and I will spare no effort to regain your trust.”

Opposition House leader Andrew Scheer, himself a former Speaker, said he was not satisfied and proposed a motion calling for the role to be deemed vacant, followed by the election of a new Speaker.

Speaking in the House of Commons early Friday afternoon, Scheer said all members of Parliament should get to decide whether they have confidence in the Speaker — not just those on the committee that produced the report.

Liberal and NDP MPs spoke in opposition to the motion.

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