Greg Fergus suggests imposing sanctions to calm the climate in the House of Commons

Greg Fergus suggests imposing sanctions to calm the climate in the House of Commons
Greg Fergus suggests imposing sanctions to calm the climate in the House of Commons

While federal MPs are raising more and more concerns about “slippages” in Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Greg Fergus, believes that it will be necessary to call for “more vigorous measures” when comments ” go too far.”

The president testified Tuesday before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is beginning a study on the prevention of violence and harassment against MPs.

Currently, MPs are not subject to a code of conduct that goes beyond issues of sexual harassment.

Mr Fergus noted that “the most common type of harassment” was the language used by MPs during debates or in committee. Elected officials from all political parties came to express their concerns about such behavior, he added. “This is something that concerns me greatly as president,” he said.

As part of its study, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will have to determine what type of measures must be adopted to calm the situation. Mr Fergus said he would wait for the committee’s findings, but is already suggesting that the House of Commons “use its disciplinary power on those rare occasions when a statement may cross the line into misconduct”. However, he did not specify what type of sanctions could be considered.

Last month, Mr. Fergus temporarily expelled Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the opposition, from the Commons after the latter called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “crazy” (“wacko “). Just before, a Conservative MP was also expelled for refusing to withdraw unparliamentary comments.

Respect traditions

Asked about the possibility that federal MPs would be subject to a stricter code of conduct, Greg Fergus stressed that it remained important to respect long-standing traditions which grant broad privileges to elected officials. The guide to the practices of the House of Commons also provides that “by far the most important right granted to MPs is that of exercising their freedom of speech within the framework of parliamentary deliberations,” he said. he noted.

Sitting on the committee, Bloc MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau said she was “ashamed” of the behavior of parliamentarians. “The climate and the slippages scare me,” she declared in front of Mr. Fergus and his colleagues.

Other deputies recently confided to the Duty that the tone of parliamentary debates was poisoned by the quest for virality on social networks.

In his testimony, Greg Fergus lamented that this is a “problem” against which “the presidency can do nothing” since partisan attacks on social networks take place outside the House of Commons.

A new controversy

Mr. Fergus’ parliamentary committee testimony coincided with a new vote to oust him from the House speakership. The man who is also the MP for Hull-Aylmer was once again plunged into controversy, after the Liberal Party of Canada promoted a summer barbecue featuring him using partisan language, without its prior approval.

The latter did not comment on the matter in committee on Tuesday, despite questions from opposition MPs. Although put to the vote on Tuesday, the motion calling for his resignation was not in the process of being adopted.

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