A Canadian lawmaker has apologized for causing a big stink by participating in a parliamentary session remotely from a bathroom stall.
Shafqat Ali, 55, a Liberal member of Canada’s House of Commons representing Ontario’s Brampton Center district, was caught with his pants down on Friday afternoon during a closed-door debate on a bill, which was not available to the public, according to a CTV News report.
Tory MP Laila Goodridge was the first to notice something was wrong with Ali’s on-screen background and reported to Assistant Deputy Speaker Alexandra Mendes that her colleague “could be participating from the toilet”.
Mendes later announced that a House of Commons page had confirmed “there was a member who appeared to be in the toilet”.
Without mentioning Ali by name, Mendes urged all lawmakers to beware of video conferencing failures.
“I would like to remind everyone that, especially online, we have to be very careful about how we use our devices and be environmentally aware when you’re online,” Mendes said.
Then, on Monday, Conservative House Leader John Brassard again referred to his Liberal colleague’s blunder in the bathroom, alleging “contempt of the House.”
Brassard said that from his conversations with other lawmakers who acknowledged Ali’s background, it appeared he placed the camera directly above the back of the toilet to participate in the debate.
“The member was literally using the toilet while participating in a sitting of the House of Commons, the cathedral of Canadian democracy,” he fumed. “I can’t believe I just said those words, Madam President.”
Less than two hours later, a remorseful Ali appeared in parliament remotely to speak about what he called his “misjudgment”.
“I want to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly apologize to all Members of Parliament for the unfortunate event that happened last Friday,” he said.
Ali assured fellow lawmakers he took the matter “extremely seriously” and vowed never to repeat his mistake.
New York Post