Canada’s House of Commons elects first black speaker
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canada’s House of Commons on Tuesday elected Greg Fergus as its new speaker, making the Liberal lawmaker the first black Canadian to hold the position.
The election was triggered by the resignation of Anthony Rota, who stepped down last week after he invited — and honoured — a man who fought for a Nazi military unit during World War II.
Just after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke before the Canadian parliament last month, Canadian lawmakers gave 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka a standing ovation when Rota drew attention to him. Rota introduced Hunka as a war hero who fought for the First Ukrainian Division.
Observers later began to publicise the fact that the First Ukrainian Division also was known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis. Rota later apologised saying he had not been aware of that.
Fergus, 54, is a Quebec Liberal lawmaker.
After lawmakers elected him to the role through a secret ballot, he promised to lead with respect, and encouraged his fellow lawmakers to respect each other. Canadians are watching, he noted.
“The speaker, to use the old hockey analogy, is nothing more than a referee,” Fergus said in his first speech from the chair. “And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that nobody pays good money to go see the referee. They go to see the stars: you.”