Conservative MP apologizes for calling NDP ‘Hamas supporters,' retracts ‘unparliamentary language’

Speaker Greg Fergus had banned MP Jake Stewart from speaking in the House of Commons until he apologized for his remarks

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Conservative Miramichi-Grand Lake MP Jake Stewart has apologized and retracted the “unparliamentary” language he used in the House of Commons last week.

Speaker Greg Fergus ruled Monday on a point of order he received from a New Democrat MP who said Stewart used “hateful language throughout question period multiple times” last week, calling it “extraordinarily unparliamentary.”

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Stewart said he called New Democrat MPs “Hamas supporters,” going as far as to repeat his words into the record.

Fergus reprimanded him for it.

“We have, in the past, had members likening their colleagues to Mussolini or calling each other racists or shouting obscenities. Latitude in expressing one’s point of view will be given, but questionable language and unnecessarily provocative statements will no longer be tolerated,” Fergus said, quoting himself from an address he made last month. “Clearly, it is disruptive and disrespectful to associate other members with a terrorist organization.

“As a result, I have concluded that the words used by the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake were unparliamentary.”

Fergus then referenced a similar decision made by past Speaker Anthony Rota, stating that unparliamentary language must be withdrawn immediately, followed by a formal apology. But in the event that a member refuses to comply, the Speaker will cease to recognize them until further notice.

“In consequence, the member will not be recognized by the Chair until such time as he apologizes in writing to the Speaker,” Fergus said.

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Stewart didn’t immediately stand to respond.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was not here earlier when the Speaker made his ruling. I would like to offer my apologies and withdraw the unparliamentary language I used last week.

Conservative spokesperson Sebastian Skamski said on Tuesday that Stewart had left his seat immediately after question period and wasn’t present for Fergus’s ruling.

Later, Stewart returned.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was not here earlier when the Speaker made his ruling. I would like to offer my apologies and withdraw the unparliamentary language I used last week,” Stewart said.

He made the apology to Conservative Deputy Speaker Chris d’Entremont, after Fergus had left the Speaker’s chair.

Office of the Speaker spokesperson Mathieu Gravel confirmed on Tuesday evening to Brunswick News that Fergus has accepted the apology “and has deemed the matter to be closed.”

Stewart has not returned requests for comment.

He did appear inside the House of Commons on Tuesday, but didn’t speak.

The Miramichi-Grand Lake MP’s words last week were part of a string of heated question period debates that devolved, at times, into a shouting match.

Fergus noted that, stating “there were other words and phrases that were used that, while perhaps not strictly unparliamentary, certainly do not contribute to the level of decorum that we all desire.

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“I therefore strongly encourage members, from all sides, to choose their words judiciously and avoid provocative interventions,” he said.

While Stewart was out of his seat, Conservative Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall and then former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer stood to question why Liberal MPs weren’t facing similar reprimand.

“You have now indicated that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake has to specifically apologize in order to be recognized by the Chair going forward,” Scheer said. “In fairness, that same standard should be applied to the members of the government who today and last week were making all kinds of terrible insinuations that are on par with calling other members sympathetic to or supporters of Hamas.”

Scheer said he plans to go through the transcripts from last week and provide the Speaker with specific examples where that same standard should be applied to government ministers.

Fergus pledged to review that submission.

Conservative Alberta MP Chris Warkentin then said that on Monday during question period, Government House Leader Karina Gould accused Conservative members of being supporters of Putin’s Russia regime in the invasion of Ukraine.

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In questioning why Conservatives voted against an updated Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, Gould did ask “Is it because there is a group of Conservative members of Parliament who are pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine, and they have to cover for them?”

“I thank all members for making very important and thoughtful statements, and I will come back to the House on this matter,” Fergus said.

Several other Conservatives, including New Brunswick Southwest MP John Williamson, also weighed in, with Scheer standing again to read Gould’s words.

“I would put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that there are a tremendous amount of similarities between the parliamentary context in terms of the member for Miramichi making a blanket statement about a political party supporting Hamas and the government House leader making an allegation about a political party supporting Vladimir Putin,” he said.

Fergus said he would take that into my consideration.

“I will come back to the House,” he said.

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