Liberal MP Greg Fergus elected as New Speaker of the House of Commons
In a historic election, the House of Commons has chosen Liberal MP Greg Fergus to serve as its next Speaker. The decision came after a mid-session vote, a rare occurrence in Canadian politics.
During his acceptance speech on October 3, Fergus emphasized the importance of mutual respect and decorum in parliamentary proceedings. "We need to make sure that we treat each other with respect, that we show Canadians the example because there can be no dialogue unless there's a mutual understanding of respect," Fergus remarked. He further stressed that effective communication and understanding cannot take place without a foundation of respect, and pledged to promote these values during his tenure. Fergus also appealed to his fellow MPs for support in this endeavour, saying, "I'm going to be working hard on this. And I need all of your help to make this happen."
In line with longstanding tradition, Mr. Fergus exhibited mock reluctance as he was "dragged" to his new position by both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre. This ritual harks back to practices from the British parliament, where the Speaker had the unenviable task of conveying the House's sentiments to the monarch – a role that could potentially result in execution if the news displeased the monarch.
Once seated, Mr. Fergus likened his role to that of a referee in a hockey game, stating, "The Speaker, to use the old hockey analogy, is nothing more than a referee." He humorously added that while spectators come to watch the star players, not the referee, his role is essential for maintaining order and civility.
As Speaker, Fergus will be tasked with overseeing a civil question period and upholding the rights of all MPs to participate in debates. He has the authority to demand apologies or even eject MPs from the chamber when deemed necessary. True to tradition, he will refrain from participating in debates and will only cast a vote to break a tie.
Mr. Fergus faced competition from six other candidates: Sean Casey, Stéphane Lauzon, Alexandra Mendès, and Peter Schiefke from the Liberal Party, New Democrat MP Carol Hughes, and Green Party co-leader Elizabeth May.
This election was necessitated by the sudden resignation of the former Speaker, Anthony Rota. Mr. Rota's departure on September 26 followed a controversial incident where he paid tribute to Yaroslav Hunka, a former member of a Nazi military unit, in Parliament. Hunka had affiliations with the 4th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a branch of the Nazi Party. Despite Rota's swift apology upon recognizing the oversight, he was compelled to step down. Rota had held the Speaker's position since 2019.
Photo caption: Liberal MP Greg Fergus, newly elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Greg Fergus.