SMH: Canada MP regrets calling into debate from toilet

The MP with Justin Trudeau
Mr Ali with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

A Canadian lawmaker has apologised for appearing remotely for a parliamentary session from a toilet cubicle.

Liberal MP Shafqat Ali was panned by a Conservative party lawmaker on Friday after colleagues noticed the familiar background of the building’s washroom.

“The camera was mounted on the ledge or ridge on the wall just above the back of the toilet,” a rival MP said.

This is the second Liberal MP in two years to be caught in an embarrassing situation on a Zoom call.

Mr Ali, a 55-year-old former real estate dealer, was elected last year to serve for the district north-west of Toronto.

The incident took place during a debate on a member’s bill in the House of Commons where several members appeared by a private video call that was only visible to their fellow MPs.

Conservative MP Laila Goodridge, who was attending the event in person, rose on a point of order to suggest that her colleague from Brampton Centre “might be participating from a washroom”.

A parliamentary page then confirmed that a member “appeared to be in the washroom”. This triggered a rebuke from the chamber’s assistant deputy speaker, who asked that all lawmakers be “prudent on how we use our devices, and to be aware of the surroundings when you are online”.

The discussion of Mr Ali’s whereabouts was raised again in Monday’s session. Conservative House leader John Brassard provided further detail on the incident.

“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,” Mr Brassard said.

“The visible stonework, wooden door, and the stainless-steel door hinges and coat hook on the back of that door… all looked quite familiar.

“It appeared that the camera was mounted on the ledge or ridge on the wall just above the back of the toilet,” he continued.

“The member of Parliament was literally using the washroom while participating in a sitting of the House of Commons, the cathedral of Canadian democracy.”

Shortly after Mr Brassard spoke, Mr Ali called into Parliament to apologise for the “lapse in judgement”.

“I take this matter extremely seriously, and I promise never to repeat this error again,” he said.

Deputy Speaker Chris D’Entremont ruled that the matter was closed following Mr Ali’s “sincere apology”.

“If you don’t have to have the camera on, turn it off,” Mr D’Entremont reminded MPs.

Last year, Liberal MP Will Amos apologised after urinating during virtual video parliamentary proceedings.

Only a month earlier, he had appeared naked on a video call with colleagues while changing after a run. He did not seek re-election.

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