In a historic moment, Greg Fergus, a Liberal lawmaker from Quebec, has been elected as the new Speaker of Canada's House of Commons. Fergus's election makes him the first Black Canadian to hold this prestigious position. The election of a new Speaker became necessary following the resignation of Anthony Rota, who stepped down after a controversial incident. Rota had invited and honored a 98-year-old man, Yaroslav Hunka, during a parliamentary session. The applause and standing ovation for Hunka occurred right after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to the Canadian parliament.
Rota introduced Hunka as a war hero who had fought for the First Ukrainian Division. However, it later came to light that the First Ukrainian Division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit under the command of the Nazis during World War II. Rota publicly apologized, stating that he had been unaware of this historical context.
Greg Fergus, 54, secured the role of Speaker through a secret ballot held on Tuesday. In his first address from the Speaker's chair, he pledged to lead with respect and called upon his fellow lawmakers to treat each other with respect, noting that Canadians are closely watching their actions.
Fergus used a hockey analogy, likening the Speaker to a referee and emphasizing that the true stars of the parliamentary proceedings are the lawmakers themselves. He expressed his commitment to fulfilling the role with fairness and integrity.