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MPs to decide on Speaker Fergus' invite flub as Conservatives advance effort to oust him

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The federal Conservatives have advanced a motion that will force MPs to vote on whether to oust Greg Fergus as House of Commons Speaker, after MPs' deputy adjudicator ruled Monday that the Liberal member's allegedly errant partisan event invite required urgent attention.

Ruling on a question of privilege raised by Conservative MP Chris Warkentin last week, deputy House Speaker and Conservative MP Chris d'Entremont said that without passing judgement on the facts, concerns raised about the latest example of the Speaker's "alleged lack of impartiality" merited taking priority.

"It is in the interest of the whole House to resolve this particular matter quickly, and with all due seriousness, and as a result, I find that a prima facie question or privilege exists in this case," he said.

This all stemmed from opposition outrage over "very partisan" language – calling Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's policies "reckless" – used to promote an upcoming constituency event with Fergus.

That version of the online listing for "a summer evening with the honourable Greg Fergus" was quickly pulled by the party and replaced with a version promising a "fun-filled summer kick-off BBQ."

According to Liberal spokesperson Parker Lund, the event listing was revised because there was a "miscommunication" between the party and Fergus' riding association, "which led to the wrong text being put on the website."

While the messaging used by the Liberal party "had not been approved" by Fergus' team, the event – meant to assist in his re-election efforts, as is above board – was cleared by the Clerk of the House of Commons, according to Speaker's office spokesperson Mathieu Gravel.

"I didn't expect to have to rule on another question of privilege regarding the Speaker," d'Entremont noted in delivering the ruling, his second regarding Fergus and allegations of partisan comportment.

MPs forced to vote on Fergus' ouster

As a result of this ruling, Warkentin was able to move a motion declaring that Fergus' "ongoing and repetitive partisan conduct outside of the chamber is a betrayal of the traditions and the expectations of his office, and a breach of trust."

Deeming this a "serious contempt," the motion calls on the House to declare the Speaker's office be immediately vacated, and a new Speaker's election held on the first Monday following the day the motion passes, if it does.

As of now, whether the motion will receive the majority votes required to pass once it does come up for a vote remains a big "if."

That's because the New Democrats – the caucus whose votes would be needed to back the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois in their desire to oust Fergus – have expressed sympathy for Fergus in this situation, placing the blame squarely on the Liberal party, which quickly apologized and took full responsibility last week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said this dealt-with case of misused messaging does not shake his faith in Fergus, and he continues to have full confidence in him as Speaker. As such, it's expected the Liberal caucus would vote against this call for Fergus to vacate the big chair.

Conservatives 'had it in' for Fergus?

This is not the first, or second, time MPs have raised concerns with Fergus' judgement and ability to credibly remain MPs' objective adjudicator. Nor is it the first or second time he's faced calls to resign. 

Prior to his election in October 2023, the Conservatives had already expressed misgivings about Fergus' aptitude for the role, given his record of past partisan positions.

Yet to personally speak to this matter, in delivering a past apology to the House of Commons over a separate partisan video ordeal, Fergus thanked MPs for giving him a "second chance" and vowed that "nothing like this will never happen again." 

"I regret to stand yet again to declare that the Speaker is a partisan Liberal … those are the facts," Warkentin said in leading debate on his motion, a deliberation that is expected to take top billing in the House until it is resolved. 

"If he respects democratic institutions, the ones he represents, he has no choice but to step down," Bloc Quebecois House Leader Alain Therrien said.

In debate, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux came to Fergus' defence, stating the Conservatives "constantly" have "had it in" for Fergus. "From day one they've actually not supported the Speaker and I find that unfortunate." 

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