As the U.S. delves into unprecedented territory with the removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, Canada’s House of Commons made history by electing the first Black speaker in the country’s history, Politico reports.
Liberal MP Greg Fergus, representing Quebec, beat out six other candidates including Chris d’Entremont, Carol Hughes, Alexandra Mendès, Peter Schiefke, Sean Casey, and Elizabeth May for the leadership position on Tuesday (October 3).
In a brief statement before polling began, Fergus laid out his intentions in anticipation of his role as speaker.
“What motivates me, and what I vow to work night and day to promote and advance, can be summed up in one word, respect,” Fergus said.
He also pledged to be “firm, thoughtful, collaborative, consistent and certainly fair.”
Keeping with years of tradition, Fergus was escorted into the House of Commons by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to his new seat
Trudeau also released a statement lauding Fergus for his strong political background.
“Greg Fergus not only brings a wealth of experience to this role, he is the first Black Canadian to become Speaker of the House of Commons — an inspiration to all Canadians, especially younger generations who want to get involved in politics,” Trudeau’s statement read.
Fergus brings a wealth of experience to his new role. Since 2015, he’s served as a member of Parliament. Also, he chairs the Black Caucus in Parliament and has held numerous senior advisory roles in several ministries.
He earned two bachelor's degrees from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
Fergus is also the father of three adult children and has one grandson.
As for U.S. Congress, McCarthy has the dubious distinction of being the first Speaker to be ousted through a vote of the full House in the middle of a congressional term. Without an elected speaker of the house, the rules of the 118th Congress state that "in the case of a vacancy in the office of speaker, the next member named on a list submitted by McCarthy to the clerk of the House in January will become speaker pro tempore until a speaker is elected.”
"Pending such election, the member acting as speaker pro tempore may exercise such authorities of the Office of Speaker as may be necessary and appropriate to that end," the rules state.
Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina was appointed speaker pro tempore because he was the first name on McCarthy's list.
While it remains a mystery who will be the next speaker, McCarthy informed his Republican colleagues after his ouster that he will not run for speaker again.
"I may have lost the vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served the American people," McCarthy said, "I leave the speakership with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and, yes, optimism."