OTTAWA – MPs were warned once again Friday to keep their calls with nature and the call to democracy separate after a Parliamentarian brought the House of Commons to the bathroom with him via Zoom.
One would think that after two years of virtual Parliament, MPs would know not to bring their devices with them to bathroom while attending proceedings.
And yet on Friday, another MP was caught sitting in the bathroom while sitting virtually in the Chamber.
In the early afternoon, Assistant Deputy Speaker Alexandra Mendès confirmed that an MP “appeared to be in the washroom” while participating in hybrid Parliament during a debate on Bill C-252.
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“I would like to remind everyone that, especially online, we have to be very prudent with how we use our devices and be aware of the surroundings,” Mendès told MPs.
She was responding to a point of order from Conservative MP Laila Goodridge noting that the Liberal MP for Brampton Centre, Shafqat Ali, “might be participating in a washroom.”
Ali did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
Monday afternoon, Conservative MP John Brassard brought up the “distressing occurrence” during a new point of order and asked the Speaker to rule that it was potentially a contempt of Parliament and refer the matter for study by committee.
“Those who witnessed the events quite clearly saw the Liberal MP enter what appeared to be a toilet stall in one of the men’s washrooms located on this very floor of this very building. The visible stonework, wooden door, and the stainless-steel door hinges and coat hook on the back of that door, which is part of the long side of the stall, all looked quite familiar,” Brassard said.
He added that according to the angle of the video, it appeared that the camera filming the member was sitting on a “ledge or ridge on the wall, just above the back of the toilet.”
“A Member of Parliament was literally using the washroom while participating in a sitting of this House of Commons, the cathedral of Canadian democracy. I cannot believe that I just said those words,” Brassard said.
This is not the first time a Liberal MP is caught with their pants down while attending virtual Parliament.
Former MP Will Amos was caught twice last year acting indecently while participating in parliamentary proceedings via Zoom. The first time he was caught naked on camera while changing, and the second time he admitted to urinating in a mug while attending committee of the whole. He did not run again in the 2021 election.
Responding to Brassard on Monday, Assistant Deputy Speaker and NDP MP Carol Hughes said she found the issue “deeply concerning” would take the Conservatives’ request into consideration.
“Given the fact that there has been other incidents in the past and it is certainly something that we as speakers and that the speaker himself will actually take into consideration and come back to this house with a ruling,” she said.
Responding to Goodridge in the House on Friday, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux warned the Conservatives to be “very careful” about that kind of point of order and indirectly accused them of wanting to “embarrass people.”
When people are in their offices, working virtually, sometimes it can be very easy to shy away from the camera to do something else, much like we might shift over a couple of seats,” Lamoureux said.
“I believe the most important thing is that members have the camera on and are in the room. I would not want to embarrass members, no matter what political party they might belong to. I do not think it would be appropriate to use the virtual Parliament as a mechanism to embarrass people.”