Published May 28, 2024

House Speaker survives latest attempt by Tories to force resignation

By Mickey Djuric
Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus appears as a witness at a House of Commons standing committee on procedure and house affairs on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus has survived a vote put forward by the Conservatives to remove him from his position.

The effort to oust Fergus failed by a vote of 142-168 after the NDP sided with the Liberals, with both accusing the Conservatives of undermining democracy and its independent institutions.

This is the third time in less than eight months that the Conservatives have called on him to step down.

They insist Fergus is too partisan after several incidents including his decision last month to expel their leader, Pierre Poilievre, from the House after he called the prime minister a "wacko." 

The Conservatives also asked Fergus to resign after a video tribute to the Ontario Liberals' departing interim leader in which Fergus wore his Speaker's robes was shown to a provincial party convention in December.

The most recent move comes a week after the Liberal party uploaded a video to its website that promoted a summer barbecue event featuring Fergus that used partisan language without getting Fergus's consent.

Manitoba Conservative MP James Bezan said earlier Tuesday that the Speaker has lost the goodwill and trust of the House.

"In baseball three strikes you're out, and we've got the Speaker on three different occasions, or actually this is the fourth occasion, that he has done partisan activities, and given partisan speeches," Bezan said in the House.

After the latest incident involving the website invitation, the Speaker's office provided a copy of the original information for the event, which did not include any partisan language.

The Liberal party apologized to Fergus for the post after New Democrats demanded it. 

The Tories urged the NDP to vote with them to oust Fergus but NDP House leader Peter Julian had said it wouldn't happen. 

"I find it very disturbing the Conservatives are attacking everything they don't control," he said. 

The Bloc Québécois voted with the Tories, but the Liberals and NDP had enough votes to defeat the motion.

Government House leader Steven MacKinnon said the Opposition vote was meant to delay government work and create distrust in democratic institutions. 

"What they seek to do is create chaos and create disorder," MacKinnon said in the House earlier Tuesday. 

Fergus declined to comment.

"It won't be appropriate for me to comment on something that's before the House," he said.

Following the video incident, Fergus apologized and said the video was intended for a longtime friend and wasn't supposed to be played in public. 

A House of Commons committee looked into it and recommended disciplinary action but not that Fergus be fired. He was fined $1,500.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2024. 

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