A Canadian lawmaker has apologized for causing a big stink by remotely participating in a parliamentary session from a bathroom stall.
Shafqat Ali, 55, a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada representing the district of Brampton Centre in Ontario, was caught with his pants down Friday afternoon during a closed-door bill debate, which was not available for public viewing, according to reporting by CTV News.
Conservative MP Laila Goodridge was the first to notice that something was amiss about Ali’s background on the screen and flagged to Assistant Deputy Speaker Alexandra Mendes that her colleague “might be participating from a washroom.”
Mendes later announced that a House of Commons page has confirmed “that there was a member that appeared to be in the washroom.”
Without mentioning Ali by name, Mendes urged all lawmakers to beware of video conferencing fails.
“I’d like to remind everyone that especially online we have to be very prudent on how we use our devices, and to be aware of the surroundings when you are online,” Mendes said.
Then on Monday, Conservative House Leader John Brassard brought up his Liberal colleague’s bathroom blunder again, alleging “contempt of the House.”
Brassard said that from his conversations with other lawmakers who recognized Ali’s background, it appeared that he had placed the camera directly above the back of the toilet to take part in the debate.
“The member of Parliament was literally using the washroom while participating in a sitting of the House of Commons, the cathedral of Canadian democracy,” he blustered. “I can’t believe I actually just said those words, Madam Speaker.”
Less than two hours later, a remorseful Ali appeared before the Parliament remotely to address what he called his “lapse of judgment.”
“I want to take this opportunity to apologize sincerely and unreservedly to all members of Parliament for the unfortunate event that transpired last Friday,” he said.
Ali assured his fellow legislators that he takes this matter “extremely seriously” and vowed never to repeat his mistake.