President Fergus says he has been impartial as he faces vote on his removal

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OTTAWA – Speaker Greg Fergus insisted he runs an impartial House of Commons, as Liberal and NDP MPs appear set to vote to keep him in office amid accusations of partisanship.

“I hope that all the decisions that I have made in this place will be judged by any impartial person as decisions that can stand the test of time and that they were impartial,” Fergus said in a debate Tuesday about his continuing role after several incidents in the who was accused of showing prejudice against conservatives.

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Fergus was recently accused of partisanship after an invitation to a Liberal party event was sent out last week indicating he would appear and included an attack on Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre. The Liberal Party has since apologized for the invitation and said it included language without Fergus’s knowledge.

The Conservatives raised the president’s participation in the event as a point of privilege in the House of Commons and Deputy Speaker Chris d’Entremont concluded on Monday that there was a prima facie case that Fergus had breached House rules.

That set up Tuesday’s debate, in which the Conservatives called for Fergus to resign, but the Liberals and NDP moved to put a time limit on that debate, with a vote on the issue expected later Tuesday.

The House of Commons is just weeks away from entering a summer recess and a lengthy debate over Fergus or a decision to replace him as speaker would make it difficult for the Liberals to pass several bills before the House adjourns.

Fergus has previously come under fire for appearing in a video played at the Ontario Liberal Party convention and has been accused of bias for his decision to expel Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre from the chamber earlier this month for describing the premier like crazy”.

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Conservative MP Jamil Jivani asked Fergus to explain more about the latest incident and why MPs should trust him to oversee the House of Commons.

“Before MPs vote tonight on whether you should remain president, why should we believe you?” -Jivani asked.

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Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner traces it back to an incident in 2016, long before Fergus became president. Fergus was then parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and criticized the NDP after the so-called “elbowgate” incident.

During that incident, Trudeau elbowed former NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chamber. Fergus said at the time that the way the NDP was acting was “reminiscent of a dive into the 2014 World Cup.”

Rempel Garner said that incident and his general partisanship prevent him from handling harassment issues in the House of Commons.

“Do you think opposition MPs would feel safe or empowered to report cases of any type of harassment?” —He asked Fergus.

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“You said I believe him, not I believe her, and that’s what’s wrong in every workplace in the world,” Rempel Garner said.

Fergus said his comments in 2016 were not an indication that he didn’t believe Brosseau, but rather how he felt the NDP was acting like a party. He said that if an MP raised a harassment concern with him, he would handle it appropriately.

“I think members should have full confidence in my ability.”

Liberal MPs on the committee asked Fergus how he thought they should respond to social media posts, sometimes made by other MPs, that led to online harassment.

Fergus said he sympathized, but said the Speaker had no role in addressing that issue.

“There have been cases of members posting comments about other members on social media that some would call inappropriate or even harassment. “While it is obviously a serious matter, it is not one over which the speaker has jurisdiction.”

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