Speaker of the House of Commons (Canada)


The Speaker of the House of Commons (French: président de la Chambre des communes) is the presiding officer of the lower house of the Parliament of Canada and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow members of Parliament (MPs). The speaker's role in presiding over Canada's House of Commons is similar to that of speakers elsewhere in other countries that use the Westminster system.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Président de la Chambre des communes
Incumbent
Anthony Rota

since December 5, 2019
House of Commons of Canada
StyleThe Honourable (while in office)
Mr. Speaker (in the Commons)
Member ofParliament
ResidenceThe Farm
AppointerElected by the members of the House of Commons
Term lengthElected at the start of each Parliament
Inaugural holderJames Cockburn
SalaryCA$269,800
Websitewww.ourcommons.ca/speaker

The 37th and current speaker of the House of Commons is Anthony Rota, since December 5, 2019. The speaker with the longest tenure is Peter Milliken who was elected for four consecutive terms lasting 10 years, 124 days.

Role


In Canada it is the speaker's responsibility to manage the House of Commons and supervise its staff. It is also the speaker's duty to act as a liaison with the Senate and the Crown. He or she is to rule over the house and have the government answer questions during the question period as well as keep decorum with the house. The speaker receives a salary of CA$269,800 ($182,600 as an MP in addition to $87,200 as speaker)[1] and has use of a small apartment, in the House of Commons, and an official residence, The Farm, an estate located at Kingsmere in Gatineau Park, Quebec, across the river from Ottawa.[2][3][4][5] for the management of the House of Commons campus, and the 2,000 individuals who work there.[3] In 2015 the speaker managed a budget of $414 million.

Along with the Senate speaker, the speaker of the House is responsible for the Parliamentary Protective Service, which provides security to Parliament Hill with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[6]

The term "speaker" originates from the British parliamentary tradition. The French term now used in Canada is président (president, chairperson, or presiding officer); the term orateur, a calque (literal translation) of "speaker" and formerly the term used in France for the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, was used until a few decades ago.[7] By convention, Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as "Mister Speaker", for a male, and "Madame Speaker", for a female.

Election


The chamber of the House of Commons; the Speaker's chair is front and centre in the room.
Plaque at the western entrance of the Centre Block of Parliament Hill

While the Constitution requires that the speaker be elected by the House of Commons, traditionally this amounted to the rubber-stamp approval of an MP nominated by the prime minister.[8] However, in 1986 this was changed and they are now selected by secret ballot. The speaker remains a sitting MP, but only votes on matters in the case of a tie.

All MPs except for Cabinet ministers and party leaders are eligible to run for speaker. Any MP who does not wish to put his or her name forward must issue a letter withdrawing from the ballot by the day before the vote. All MPs who do not remove their name from the ballot as of 6pm the day before the election are listed as candidates on the ballot and are allowed a five-minute speech to persuade their colleagues as to why they should be elected.

The election is presided over by the dean of the House, currently Louis Plamondon, who is the longest continuously serving MP who is not in Cabinet.

All candidates who receive less than 5% of the vote are removed from the ballot. If no candidate received less than 5% of the vote then the MP with the fewest vote drops off. This continues, with a one-hour break between ballots, until one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. In the event of a tie on the final ballot, the ballot is taken again. This happened once, in 1993, when Gilbert Parent won over Jean-Robert Gauthier.[9]

The winner is escorted to the speaker's chair by the prime minister and leader of the Official Opposition. The newly elected speaker, by tradition, feigns reluctance as he or she is "dragged" to the chair[10] in a practice dating from the days when British speakers risked execution if the news they reported to the king was displeasing.[11]

On June 2, 2011, Conservative Andrew Scheer (Regina—Qu'Appelle) was elected speaker, defeating the following MPs over the course of six ballots: New Democrat Denise Savoie (Victoria (electoral district)) and Conservatives Dean Allison (Niagara West—Glanbrook), Barry Devolin (Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock), Ed Holder (London West), Lee Richardson (Calgary Centre), Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North), and Merv Tweed (Brandon—Souris). Scheer was the youngest Speaker in Canadian history.

On December 2, 2015, Geoff Regan was elected speaker by members of the 42nd Parliament over fellow Liberal candidates Denis Paradis, Yasmin Ratansi and Conservative Bruce Stanton.[12] Regan won on the first ballot and is the first speaker from Atlantic Canada in nearly a hundred years[13] since Nova Scotian Edgar Nelson Rhodes in 1922.

Anthony Rota was elected as 37th speaker on December 5, 2019, by winning a ranked ballot between himself, Joël Godin, Carol Hughes, Geoff Regan (the speaker during the previous Parliament), and Bruce Stanton.[14] Following Rota's win, the Conservatives said that he had them to thank for his new election, after they decided in a Conservative caucus meeting to unseat Regan as a show of strength to the Liberal minority government. They did so by ranking Regan further down on the ranked ballot.[15][16]

Opposition speakers

The speaker usually comes from among MPs of the governing party. But because he or she cannot vote unless his or her vote would break a tie and by convention must vote to maintain the status quo (which includes voting confidence in the government), a minority government can slightly weaken the opposition's power by electing an opposition speaker.

Speakers have been elected from opposition parties during the 1926 tenure of Arthur Meighen's Conservative ministry, the 1979 ministry of Progressive Conservative Joe Clark, and Stephen Harper's Conservative Ministry from 2006 to 2011. In the 39th Parliament, three opposition members, Peter Milliken, Diane Marleau and Marcel Proulx, ran for speaker. In 1957, when John George Diefenbaker took power with a minority Progressive Conservative government, he offered the speaker's chair to Stanley Knowles of the opposition Co-operative Commonwealth Federation – the precursor to the New Democratic Party (NDP) – who declined. So far, every speaker from an opposition party has been a Liberal.

Impartiality


The speaker is required to perform his or her office impartially, but does not resign from his or her party membership upon taking office, as is done in the United Kingdom. Speaker Lucien Lamoureux decided to follow the custom of the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and ran in the 1968 election as an independent. Both the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party agreed not to run candidates against him. The New Democratic Party, however, declined to withdraw their candidate. Lamoureux was re-elected and continued to serve as speaker. However, in the 1972 election, the opposition parties did not come to an agreement and ran candidates against him. Lamoureux was again returned but no subsequent speakers have repeated his attempt to run as an independent. The opposition parties may have chosen not to follow the 1968 precedent because of how close the election was: it produced a Liberal minority government with just two more seats than the Conservatives.

Tie-breaking votes


On May 19, 2005, the speaker was required to cast the tie-breaking vote during a confidence measure for the first time in Canadian history. Faced with the defeat of Paul Martin's minority government, Milliken voted in favour of the NDP budget amendment. Despite popular belief that the speaker, as a Liberal MP, would automatically support the government, his vote was pre-determined by other factors. As speaker, Milliken's vote must be cast to allow the continuation of debate, or to maintain the status quo, a reflection of Speaker Denison's rule practiced in the British House of Commons. Thus, the speaker voted in favour of second reading, "to allow the House time for further debate so that it can make its own decision at some future time."[17] The bill would later pass third reading without the need for Milliken's vote.

Speakers have only needed to vote in order to break a tie 11 times in Canadian parliamentary history. Milliken did so on five occasions, more than all previous speakers combined.[18]

Deputy speaker


In addition to the speaker, a deputy speaker, also known as the chair of committees (of the whole,) is elected at the beginning of each parliament to act in place of the speaker when the latter is unavailable. Under the Standing Orders, the speaker, after consulting with each of the party leaders, nominates a candidate for deputy speaker to the House, which then votes on that nomination. The deputy speaker presides over daily sessions of the House when the speaker is not in the chair. The deputy speaker also chairs the House when it sits as a Committee of the Whole. Other presiding officers, the deputy chair of committees and the assistant deputy chair of committees, are chosen each session to occupy the chair when the speaker and deputy speaker are not available. The deputy speaker and the other presiding officers are members of the Panel of Chairs, and can therefore be selected by the speaker to chair legislative committees. Like the speaker, the deputy speaker has a role in administering the House.[19]

The current deputy speaker is Bruce Stanton (Conservative); and the assistant deputy speaker is Carol Hughes (NDP).[20]

Retirement


Most former speakers retire from Parliament after their tenure as speaker, sometimes after returning to the backbench for a period. Several have been appointed to diplomatic positions, summoned to the Senate, or appointed to a vice-regal position such as lieutenant-governor of a province or, in two cases, governor general of Canada. While several former Cabinet ministers have served as speaker or stood for the position, no former speakers have subsequently been appointed to Cabinet. One speaker, Andrew Scheer, has gone on to assume a front bench position in the House of Commons: Scheer became leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2017 and has served as leader of the Opposition from 2017 to 2020.

Honorary Speaker


On March 9, 2016 Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger served as honorary speaker for about an hour to honour his years of service.[21] Speaker Regan resumed his duties for the remainder of the sitting of the House.

Mauril Bélanger was initially the front runner for the current role, but declined due to his being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Bélanger died on August 15, 2016, five months after being named honorary speaker.[21]

Counterparts


The speaker's counterpart in the upper house is the speaker of the Senate of Canada. Canadian provincial and territorial legislatures also have speakers with much the same roles. The position was preceded by the speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.

List of speakers of the House of Commons


Key:

SpeakerTenureParliament(s)Term lengthPartyRiding
1 James CockburnNovember 6, 1867March 5, 18741st, 2nd6 years, 99 daysConservativeNorthumberland West
2 Timothy Warren AnglinMarch 26, 1874February 12, 18793rd4 years, 323 daysLiberalGloucester
3 Joseph Godéric BlanchetFebruary 13, 1879February 7, 18834th3 years, 359 daysLiberal-ConservativeLévis
4 George Airey KirkpatrickFebruary 8, 1883July 12, 18875th, 6th4 years, 154 daysConservativeFrontenac
5 Joseph-Aldéric OuimetJuly 13, 1887July 28, 18916th, 7th4 years, 15 daysLiberal-ConservativeLaval
6 Peter WhiteJuly 29, 1891August 18, 18967th5 years, 21 daysConservativeRenfrew North
7 James David EdgarAugust 19, 1896July 31, 18998th2 years, 346 daysLiberalOntario West
8 Thomas BainAugust 1, 1899February 5, 19018th1 year, 188 daysLiberalWentworth South
9 Louis Philippe BrodeurFebruary 6, 1901January 18, 19049th2 years, 346 daysLiberalRouville
10 Napoléon Antoine BelcourtMarch 10, 1904January 10, 19059th306 daysLiberalOttawa (City of)
11 Robert Franklin SutherlandJanuary 11, 1905January 19, 190910th4 years, 0 daysLiberalEssex North
12 Charles MarcilJanuary 20, 1909November 14, 191111th2 years, 298 daysLiberalBonaventure
13 Thomas Simpson SprouleNovember 15, 1911December 2, 191512th4 years, 17 daysConservativeGrey East
14 Albert SévignyJanuary 12, 1916January 7, 191712th361 daysConservativeDorchester
15 Edgar Nelson RhodesJanuary 18, 1917March 5, 192212th, 13th5 years, 46 daysConservativeCumberland
16 Rodolphe LemieuxMarch 8, 1922June 2, 193014th, 15th, 16th8 years, 86 daysLiberalGaspé
17 George BlackSeptember 8, 1930January 16, 193517th4 years, 130 daysConservativeYukon
18 James Langstaff BowmanJanuary 17, 1935February 5, 193617th1 year, 19 daysConservativeDauphin
19 Pierre-François CasgrainFebruary 6, 1936May 10, 194018th4 years, 94 daysLiberalCharlevoix-Saguenay
20 James Allison GlenMay 16, 1940September 5, 194519th5 years, 112 daysLiberalMarquette
21 Gaspard FauteuxSeptember 6, 1945September 14, 194920th4 years, 69 daysLiberalSt. Mary
22 William Ross MacdonaldSeptember 15, 1949June 11, 195321st3 years, 269 daysLiberalBrantford
23 Louis-René BeaudoinNovember 12, 1953October 13, 195722nd3 years, 335 daysLiberalVaudreuil-Soulanges
24 Roland MichenerOctober 14, 1957September 26, 196223rd, 24th4 years, 347 daysProgressive ConservativeSt. Paul's
25 Marcel LambertSeptember 27, 1962May 15, 196325th230 daysProgressive ConservativeEdmonton West
26 Alan MacnaughtonMay 16, 1963January 17, 196626th2 years, 246 daysLiberalMount Royal
27 Lucien LamoureuxJanuary 18, 1966September 29, 197427th8 years, 253 daysLiberalStormont-Dundas
27 28th, 29thIndependent
28 James JeromeSeptember 30, 1974December 14, 197930th, 31st5 years, 75 daysLiberalSudbury
29 Jeanne SauvéApril 14, 1980January 15, 198432nd3 years, 276 daysLiberalLaval-des-Rapides
30 Lloyd FrancisJanuary 16, 1984November 4, 198432nd293 daysLiberalOttawa West
31 John BosleyNovember 5, 1984September 29, 198633rd1 year, 328 daysProgressive ConservativeDon Valley West
32 John Allen FraserSeptember 30, 1986January 16, 199433rd, 34th7 years, 108 daysProgressive ConservativeVancouver South
33 Gilbert ParentJanuary 17, 1994January 28, 200135th, 36th7 years, 11 daysLiberalWelland—St. Catharines—Thorold
Niagara Centre
34 Peter MillikenJanuary 29, 2001June 2, 201137th, 38th, 39th, 40th10 years, 124 daysLiberalKingston and the Islands
35 Andrew ScheerJune 2, 2011December 2, 201541st4 years, 183 daysConservativeRegina—Qu'Appelle
36 Geoff ReganDecember 3, 2015December 5, 201942nd4 years, 2 daysLiberalHalifax West
37 Anthony RotaDecember 5, 2019Present43rd1 year, 199 daysLiberalNipissing—Timiskaming

References


  1. "Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances". lop.parl.ca. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  2. "Farewell to Peter Milliken". Ottawa magazine. March 25, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2018. There are benefits for the 61-year-old bachelor to being Speaker: he has a small apartment just down the hall from his spacious offices and a grand official residence in Gatineau Park (the Farm), across the Ottawa River in Quebec.
  3. Althia Raj (November 27, 2015). "Andrew Scheer, Outgoing House Speaker, Reflects On Pressures, Perks Of Coveted Job". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2018. He or she is responsible for the administration of the Commons, the staff, the precinct's security, printing and postal services, and providing MPs funds and resources to do their job — an office that comes with an approximately $414 million budget.
  4. "Speaker Geoff Regan opens door to secret apartment in Parliament". Toronto Sun. December 16, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2018. One of the best-kept secrets inside the main building on Parliament Hill — known as Centre Block — is what’s inside room 202N.
  5. Melanie Marquis, Ben Singer (December 16, 2018). "Take a look at the Speakers secret Parliament apartment..." YouTube. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  6. "Parliamentary Protective Service Directors". lop.parl.ca. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  7. "Senators and Members". Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  8. Brent Holland (October 17, 2014). "Peter Miliken Speaker Of The House Canada Parliament Ottawa Brent Holland Show". YouTube. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  9. CPAC. "CPAC". CPAC. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  10. [dead link]
  11. "About Parliament: Traditions of Parliament". parliament.co.uk. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  12. "Meet Geoff Regan, the new Speaker of the House of Commons". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  13. "Geoff Regan elected House Speaker as 42nd Parliament opens". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  14. Tunney, Catharine; Zimonjic, Peter; Harris, Kathleen (December 5, 2019). "Liberal MP Anthony Rota elected Speaker of the House of Commons". CBC News. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  15. "Liberal MP Anthony Rota elected Speaker. You're welcome, Conservatives say". National Post. December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  16. "Liberal MP Anthony Rota upsets Regan to become Speaker in minority Parliament". Burnaby Now. December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  17. Canadian Press (May 20, 2005). "Speaker's vote breaks first no-confidence tie". theglobeandmail.com. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  18. "3,178 days and counting". Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  19. "The Speaker of the House of Commons". Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  20. "Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the 42nd Parliament". Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  21. The Canadian Press Politics (March 8, 2016). "Mauril Belanger to take Speaker's chair, though ALS has robbed him of speech". Ipolitics.ca. Retrieved July 8, 2017.