Manitoba

Robert-Falcon Ouellette ends bid for Speaker after controversial remarks

Robert-Falcon Ouellette is withdrawing his name from the list of possible candidates for Speaker of the House after remarks he made Saturday.

He made the announcement via Facebook on Sunday

Robert-Falcon Ouellette is withdrawing his bid to become Speaker of the House. (CBC)

Winnipeg MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette is withdrawing his name from the list of possible candidates for Speaker of the House after controversial remarks he made about the position.

On Saturday at a town hall meeting with his constituents, Ouellette explained why he thought running for the position was a good idea.

Mistakes have consequences, and I accept them.- Robert-Falcon Ouellette

"I've talked to other Speakers who have been in the position before," Ouellette said in the speech.

"They said, actually, it's a position of great influence because if I have an issue in my riding where I need some funds or I need something to happen ... I would call over the prime minister to my chair," he continued.

"This is what other Speakers have said and perhaps what people don't think about, but you can actually use that influence that you have in the House, because you do control the debate and the prime minister wants to keep you happy."

Regrets remarks

"I suggested that the Speaker has the ability to call over a minister or the prime minister, I at no time intended to convey that there was any suggestion of quid pro quo," Oullette wrote in an apology he posted on Facebook Sunday.

Ouellette goes on to say that he regrets any impression his remarks gave of the role of the Speaker.

"While I never intended to imply anything other than that the Speaker, as MP, still has the capacity to bring constituents' concerns to the attention of government, I must take responsibility for my clumsiness in the way I expressed myself."

The newly-elected Winnipeg Centre MP also noted that in order for the government to move forward with a fresh start in Parliament, standards must be raised and he is "no exception."

"Mistakes have consequences, and I accept them," he wrote.

Two hours after the post was published, there were more than 50 comments, many of which were supportive and positive.

"Wow, Robert. You are so classy and your humbleness and willingness to admit to fault … I hope you are still considered for Speaker of the House! You are a great person of good character and honest resolve," wrote Cherish Lynn Rose.

"Well, Robert, I will be speaking to our MP and strongly suggesting to him that he puts your name forward for the Speaker's position. I will also e-mail as many other MPs as I can asking them to do the same," read a comment written by Andrew Gilmour.

Ouellette refused to provide CBC Manitoba with a response to the comments he made at the town hall. 

MPs from across Canada will vote on their next speaker on Dec. 3.


Robert-Falcon Ouellette's statement in full:

With heavy heart, I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the Speaker of the House of Commons.

At a Town Hall with my constituents, I suggested that the Speaker has the ability to call over a Minister or the Prime Minister, I at no time intended to convey that there was any suggestion of quid pro quo.

I deeply regret any impression I gave of the Speaker's role. While I never intended to imply anything other than that the Speaker, as MP, still has the capacity to bring constituents' concerns to the attention of government, I must take responsibility for my clumsiness in the way I expressed myself.

If we are truly to move forward with a fresh start in this parliament, we do have to raise standards, and I am no exception. Mistakes have consequences, and I accept them. I apologize unreservedly to the House and my fellow parliamentarians and withdraw my name from consideration.


With files from the Canadian Press's Steve Lambert

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