Five MPs vying to be next House of Commons Speaker
OTTAWA -- There are five Members of Parliament vying to be the next House of Commons speaker: Two Liberals, two Conservatives, and a New Democrat.
The MPs who are in the running to be the Speaker are incumbent Liberals Geoff Regan and Anthony Rota, Conservatives Bruce Stanton and Joel Godin, and NDP MP Carol Hughes.
In addition to Regan seeking a second term in the biggest seat in the Commons, the other contenders were either deputy or assistant deputy speakers in the last Parliament, with the exception of Godin.
Electing a House of Commons Speaker is the first things MPs have to do at the start of a new Parliament, and therefore will be the first item of business Thursday morning.
The Speaker's duty is to be the impartial interpreter of parliamentary rules. They are responsible for maintaining order and upholding the rights and privileges of members. The Speaker is also the head of the House of Commons administration.
Since a rule change was made in 2015, the election of the Speaker is done by a secret and ranked ballot vote. This means the only thing that will be made public at the end of the process is the name of the winner, not how many ballots it took, or by how many votes they won.
All members of Parliament except for ministers and party leaders are eligible and automatically considered candidates for the role. If an MP doesn't want to be considered, they had to inform the House of Commons to remove their name from the list no later than 6 p.m. Wednesday, though there is still the ability for candidates to withdraw their name on the House of Commons floor on Thursday.
The dean of the House -- the MP with the longest continuous service -- will oversee the election. This will once again be Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon, who was first elected in 1984, making this his fourth time as the dean.
Before the vote, each candidate has five minutes to make their case. Then, after a 30-minute break for any final lobbying, the voting begins.
MPs receive their ballots from a House clerk and then cast their votes behind the curtains. House officials will then count the votes and if no one candidate secures more than an absolute majority on the first ballot, the candidate with the fewest is eliminated and the votes they received are then redistributed to the second choice on those ballots. This continues until one person receives more than half the votes.
Once the winner is named, they will be invited to take the chair. Traditionally they are ushered up by the prime minister and Official Opposition leader and the new Speaker is to display some degree of ceremonial resistance to walk up, given the role in the past was one MPs were actually reluctant to take.
The new Speaker will accept any congratulatory messages other MPs may have before suspending the House to head over to the Senate for the throne speech.
The Speaker job comes with a $85,500 top-up—the same amount a minister receives—on the base $178,900 MP salary, an official residence called The Farm in Kingsmere, a community within Chelsea, Que., as well as a modest apartment on Parliament Hill.
The deputy and assistant deputy speakers are named in subsequent days and generally are decided upon by consensus amongst the party leaders.
There had been some speculation that Elizabeth May or Jody Wilson-Raybould would be interested in the post, which was once held notably by current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. However, both May and Wilson-Raybould have taken themselves out of the running.
While the Liberals may have their preferred choice, the reality of a minority Parliament leaves them 13 votes shy of securing their preferred Speaker and short one more vote going forward should a Liberal be elected Speaker.
Also, it seems the opposition are keen for a change.
On CTV’s Power Play, former deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt said the Conservative caucus “had some issues” with Regan’s time as Speaker and NDP National Director Anne McGrath said that the New Democrat caucus thinks it’s been a long time since there was a lead female Speaker so they’ll be “solidly” backing Hughes.