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Criticized for his participation in an Ontario Liberal event, Greg Fergus walks away ;fend

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Liberal Greg Fergus became Speaker of the House of Commons on October 3. (Archive photo)


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The Speaker of the House of Commons, Greg Fergus, was the subject of strong criticism from several federal Conservatives this weekend. They criticize him for his appearance in a video tribute made for the interim leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, John Fraser, during the party's leadership convention this weekend.

In the two-minute video message, Mr. Fergus appears in a sequence between former provincial Liberal leaders Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty in his office as Speaker of the House of Commons, dressed in traditional attire associated with his role. He paid tribute to Mr. Fraser, the outgoing interim leader of the Ontario Liberals. The video mainly discusses his personal relationship with Mr. Fraser, who has represented the provincial Liberals in an Ottawa riding since 2013.

Conservative MPs believe however, that the broadcast of this video was inappropriate given the position of the Speaker of Parliament as an impartial administrator of the House of Commons.

Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer, himself a former Speaker of the House, called the situation unacceptable.

This conduct is simply unacceptable; it goes against all the long-standing traditions and expectations associated with the high office you hold. For MPs to trust you and accept your decisions, you must at all times avoid showing partisanship. Your behavior this weekend broke that trust, Mr. Scheer wrote in a letter addressed to Mr. Fergus and also published on the social network X.

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The former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada indicates his intention to present a motion for the House to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, asking it to recommend an appropriate corrective measure.

In a written statement sent to CBC on Sunday, Mr. Fergus' office defended the video as non-partisan.

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Speaker Fergus has been asked to record a personal message for John Fraser, which will be released as part of a video tribute to a colleague and friend from the National Capital Region who ;he has known for many decades. The video recognizes Mr Fraser's dedication to public service and is in no way partisan in nature, a spokesperson said. That said, the President is aware of how this message may have been perceived and recognizes the need to protect the impartial and non-partisan role of the President. He will demonstrate greater diligence in the future and will continue, as his record shows, to demonstrate impartiality in his role internally and externally. of the hemicycle.

The Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention on Saturday marked the end of Mr. Fraser's second term as interim leader of the party. Mr. Fergus described Mr. Fraser as a longtime friend and thanked him for his public service in politics.

In a social media post on Sunday, John Fraser thanked Mr Fergus for his words and suggested it may not be clear to the Speaker of the House of Representatives where and when the message would be broadcast.

I regret that it was not clearly communicated to his office where and when it would be used, wrote Mr. Fraser in a message in English.

In response to a request for comment from CBC, a spokesperson for the Ontario Liberals said that the party had nothing to add to Mr. Fraser's message.

Mr. Fergus was appointed Speaker of the House of Commons on October 3, succeeding Anthony Rota. The latter was forced to resign after paying tribute to a Ukrainian veteran who fought with the Nazis during President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Parliament.

With reporting from Christian Paas-Lang ofCBCNews

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