Conservative Attacks On Speakers In Ottawa, Regina Part Of A Pattern, Say Liberals And NDP | CBC News


The federal Liberals and NDP say conservative politicians are displaying a pattern of attacks against Speakers’ independence, an allegation the Conservatives in Ottawa strongly deny.

Federal Tories pushed a motion to oust House Speaker Greg Fergus earlier this weekMickey Djuric · The Canadian Press

· Posted: May 29, 2024 6:42 PM EDT | Last Updated: 3 hours ago

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. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)The federal Liberals and NDP say conservative politicians are displaying a pattern of attacks against Speakers’ independence, an allegation the Conservatives in Ottawa strongly deny.

The accusation comes a day after the federal Conservatives tried and failed for the third time to get House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus to resign over claims he is too partisan for the role.

Their attempts are designed to intimidate and delay House work, government House leader Steven MacKinnon said.

“The fact is that this culture of intimidating the chair is something we have seen in other legislatures and I think Canadians are rightly horrified by it,” he said.

His NDP counterpart Peter Julian said there’s a “disturbing undercurrent” in Ottawa and in Saskatchewan among conservatives who are attacking independent institutions, and their latest target is Speakers.

Julian drew a connection to Saskatchewan by linking Jeremy Harrison, former Saskatchewan Party House leader, to federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

Both were elected to Parliament in 2004 as Conservatives. Harrison served one term in Ottawa before being defeated in 2006. He was elected provincially in 2007.

Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison admitted to bringing a firearm into the legislature in 2016. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)While Poilievre is undermining the Speaker in Ottawa, Harrison is doing the same in Regina, Julian charged.

“It’s a pattern now,” he told The Canadian Press.

On May 16, Saskatchewan’s Speaker Randy Weekes accused several Saskatchewan Party members and staff, including Harrison, of acts of intimidation, such as sending him harassing text messages about his rulings. Weekes was elected as a Saskatchewan Party MLA and served briefly in cabinet.

Last fall, he lost the party’s nomination to run in the next election. He tore up his party membership card this month when he made the allegations of intimidation.

Randy Weekes, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, has claimed cabinet minister Jeremy Harrison brought a firearm into the legislative building and wanted permission to bring in a handgun. (Jeremy Simes/The Canadian Press)Weekes also said Harrison once sought permission to bring a gun into the legislature. Harrison initially denied the allegation but resigned last week after admitting he had forgotten about the incident, which happened more than a decade ago.

“The disturbing undercurrent as we see in Saskatchewan, as we’re seeing here, is attacks on independent institutions,” Julian said.

“And this isn’t something we’ve seen before from Conservatives, but since Mr. Poilievre has become leader we’re seeing this more and more.”

Saskatchewan case has nothing to do us, federal Conservatives sayA spokesperson for Poilievre rebuked Julian’s connection.

“This is something that happened in the Saskatchewan legislature regarding an entirely different party and has nothing to do with the Parliament of Canada and its Liberal Speaker or the Conservative Party of Canada,” said Sebastian Skamski, a spokesperson for Poilievre.

“This is just another pathetic, desperate attempt by the coalition NDP to distract and play defence for Justin Trudeau and their Liberal masters.”

The Conservatives argue that Fergus has proven himself to be biased by, among other things, ejecting Poilievre from the House of Commons last month for refusing to retract his comment calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “wacko.” Fergus was forced to pay a $1,500 fine and apologize after he delivered a partisan tribute to an outgoing interim Liberal leader in Ontario on a video played at the party’s leadership convention.

The Liberals apologized to Fergus earlier this month after an invitation to an event in his riding was posted with language attacking the Conservatives. They said the invite was posted by a party staffer using boilerplate terms by mistake. It was replaced.

That incident is what prompted the latest Tory motion to oust Fergus, which failed Tuesday when the Liberals and NDP voted against it.

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