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The American Problem
February 17, 2023

Greg Fergus to be the First Black Speaker in the Canadian House of Commons


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Greg Fergus to be the First Black Speaker in the Canadian House of Commons

Photo courtesy of CTV News.

On this morning, October 03, 2023, Greg Fergus of Quebec, Canada, was elected as the first-ever black man to hold a speaker position in the Canadian House of Commons.

A lover of education and public policy, Mr. Fergus, now 54, has been involved in the political sphere for over 25 years, serving most recently as the Member of Parliament for Hull—Aylmer in 2015. His past work led him to the Canadian Parliament, where he dutifully served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. In addition, he has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Backed by his impressive educational achievements, such as a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of International Relations from Carleton University, as well as undergraduate studies in International Relations, Fergus is an overall standout figure in Canadian politics.

While his love for politics is confined to such a sphere it belongs, his passion for education and student well-being moves beyond the House speeches. In an electoral debate on September 29, 2023, Fergus tabled one of the most critical petitions on the agenda for Canadians: educational grants and scholarships for graduate and doctorate students. While undergraduate scholarships for university-level students are on a steady upward trend, financial aid for graduate students has maintained a consistent low in many Canadian universities.

Support for such financial efforts by the Canadian government is also meager. The Canadian government’s sole financial aid program to graduate and doctoral students is highly inaccessible to the standard graduate, with many eligibility requirements and specified areas of study one must follow to receive a small educational grant. This situation is frightening to the future of Canadian students, given that over 80% of graduate students reported that they experienced massive financial debt after finishing their educational studies. Greg Fergus recognizes this issue, prompting the table of his educational petition. As he stated in his speech on Sunday, “The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to do the following: increase the value of tri-agency graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships by 50%; increase the number of tri-agency graduate student scholarships by 50%; increase the number of tri-agency postdoctoral fellowships by 100%; and increase the tri-agency research grant budget provided to faculty by at least 10% per year for the next 10 years, to allow for increased graduate student and postdoctoral pay.”

Implementing this into Canadian policy would be a massive step for Canada’s graduate and doctoral students and future university students, ensuring that post-graduate studies are accessible to a broader majority of Canadian students. Mr. Fergus’ commitment to increased education and more equitable policy makes him one of the most excellent speakers the House of Commons has yet to see. The Canadian government is in for a bright future with Fergus on board, and we cannot wait to see what he does with his newfound political position.

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Caroline Young
Caroline Young, Editor

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