What you need to know about the election of a new Speaker
On Tuesday, MPs will be electing a new Speaker of the House of Commons, in the wake of Anthony Rota's resignation.
It will be a day for the Canadian political history books, as well as a day full of pomp and procedure.
Here's what you need to know about the role, the contenders, and the process.
WHAT IS THE SPEAKER'S ROLE?
The duties of the House of Commons Speaker extend beyond the role Canadians most often see them play, as the impartial adjudicator of House proceedings, maintaining order and decorum while interpreting parliamentary rules.
The Speaker also has key administrative and managerial functions, as well as ceremonial and diplomatic responsibilities when they act as a representative of the Canadian Parliament.
Speakers are required to act in a nonpartisan manner, and once chosen by their peers, the MP donning the robe will no longer participate in caucus meetings held by the party they were elected to represent. In the role, the Speaker never participates in debate, and only votes in case of a tie.
The Speaker job comes with a $92,800 salary top-up on the base $194,600 MP — the same amount a minister receives. It also comes with an official residence called The Farm in the community of Kingsmere in Chelsea, Que, as well as a modest apartment in West Block for what can often be late nights in the big chair.
According to the latest edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, only two of the 36 speakers elected since Confederation were elected mid-session.
In 1899, it was because the Speaker died while in office, and then in 1984 a replacement was needed because the Speaker resigned to become governor general.
WHO WANTS THE SPEAKER JOB?
All members of Parliament except for ministers and leaders of recognized parties are eligible and automatically considered candidates for the role.
MPs who didn't want to be considered had until 6 p.m. on Monday to inform the House of Commons to remove their name from the list.
The names of the MPs on the final list for consideration are:
- Liberal Quebec MP and assistant deputy speaker Alexandra Mendes;
- Liberal Quebec MP and parliamentary secretary Greg Fergus;
- Liberal P.E.I. MP Sean Casey;
- Liberal Quebec MP Stephane Lauzon;
- Liberal Quebec MP Peter Schiefke;
- Conservative Nova Scotia MP and deputy Speaker Chris d'Entremont;
- NDP Ontario MP and assistant deputy speaker Carol Hughes; and
- Green B.C. MP Elizabeth May, however she is not expected to be present.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON TUESDAY
The process will kick off at the start of the sitting day, at 10 a.m. ET.
With Dean of the House—the member with the longest unbroken record of service—Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon presiding for his sixth time, all interested candidates will be given an opportunity to make a brief speech, pitching other MPs on why they'd be best to uphold the traditions and decorum that are the backbone of the House of Commons.
Then, after a 30-minute break for last-minute lobbying, MPs will receive their ballots from a House clerk and cast their votes behind the curtains. Because the Speaker election has been conducted using a secret ranked ballot since 2015, MPs can't use the electronic voting application. This means MPs will have to be on the Hill to cast their vote in person.
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 of the votes.
The only information 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.
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.
There will be celebratory congratulations from party leaders and initial remarks from the Speaker that are likely to follow a traditional script pledging to carry out their duties with firmness and impartiality.
And, even though it's not the start of a new session, a procession over to the Senate to have the upper chamber and the Governor General acknowledge the new Speaker, is expected.
Lastly, the deputy and assistant deputy speakers are typically named in subsequent days and generally are decided upon by consensus amongst the party leaders.
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