Mauril Bélanger

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The Honourable
Mauril Bélanger
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Ottawa—Vanier
Assumed office
February 13, 1995
Preceded by Jean-Robert Gauthier
Chief Government Whip
In office
Prime Minister Paul Martin
Preceded by Marlene Catterall
Succeeded by Karen Redman
Personal details
Born (1955-06-15) June 15, 1955 (age 61)
Mattawa, Ontario, Canada
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Catherine Bélanger
Residence Ottawa
Profession Administrator, political adviser
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

Mauril A. Bélanger, PC MP (born June 15, 1955) is a Member of the Canadian House of Commons who has represented Ottawa—Vanier since a by-election victory in 1995. A member of the Liberal Party of Canada, Bélanger served in cabinet during the premiership of Paul Martin as Minister responsible for Official Languages, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, and Minister for Internal Trade. Bélanger was considered a frontrunner for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons after his 8th electoral victory during the 2015 federal election, but withdrew after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Early life[edit]

Bélanger was born in Mattawa, Ontario, a small logging town in northeastern Ontario where the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers meet.

He graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1977, where he had served as President of the Student Federation. In the early 1980s, he worked for Jean-Luc Pépin, then Minister of Transport. In the mid to late 1980s, he worked as a registered investment advisor. He was then the Chief of Staff to Peter Clark (Chair of the Regional Council of Ottawa-Carleton).


Bélanger was first elected to Parliament on February 13, 1995 in a by-election in the riding of Ottawa—Vanier, which has a large Francophone population.[2] His predecessor, Jean-Robert Gauthier, was appointed to the Senate. Ottawa–Vanier is considered a solid Liberal riding, having returned a Liberal MP since its creation in 1935, usually in a landslide. Bélanger himself has won by large margins in the 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections. He won re-election for a seventh term by a reduced margin with 38.2% of the vote in the May 2011 election. In the October 2015 election, Bélanger had his largest margin since the 1997 election.

Chrétien and Martin years[edit]

As member of Parliament, Bélanger has served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, member of the Standing Committee on the Library of Parliament and member of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Urban Issues. From July 1998 to August 2000, he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. In December 2003, he was appointed Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Chief Government Whip.

In the government of Paul Martin, Bélanger served as Minister responsible for Official Languages, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, and Minister for Internal Trade.[2]


Bélanger was re-elected in the 2006 federal election, and served as the Official Opposition critic for Canadian Heritage from February 2006 to January 2007, when he began a nine-month stint as critic for Infrastructure and Communities under new Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.[2] From October 2007 to March 2008, Bélanger served as the Official Opposition critic for Official Languages, Canadian Heritage, and the Francophonie.[2] After Bélanger won his seat once more in the 2008 federal election, he was appointed as Official Opposition critic for Official Languages in March 2010 by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.[2] After Bélanger's re-election in the 2011 federal election, he continued as his party's critic on this file under interim leader Bob Rae until May 2012.[2] After Justin Trudeau's election as Liberal leader, Bélanger was appointed the party's critic for Cooperatives in August 2013.[2]

Return to government[edit]

Following his re-election in the 2015 federal election, Bélanger submitted his name for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons and was considered a front-runner for the post.[3] However, on November 30, Bélanger announced that he was withdrawing as a candidate for speaker after he received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[3] He plans to continue as MP for Ottawa—Vanier.[4]

In December 2015, fellow Ottawa-area Liberal MP Andrew Leslie presented a motion in the house to name Bélanger honorary Speaker of the House of Commons and the right to sit in the chair for a future day.[3] In January 2016, Bélanger became the first MP to use a voice generator in the House of Commons when he used an app on his tablet to introduce a private member's bill to amend to lyrics of "O Canada" to make them gender neutral, which he had failed to do through a similar bill in the last parliament by a 144-127 vote.[5] On March 9, 2016, Bélanger sat in the Speaker's chair for one day, and presided over the proceedings with the aid of an iPad app that produced a computerized voice.[6] This honour made Bélanger the first honourary speaker of the house for a day.[7]

On May 6, 2016, consideration of Bélanger's bill to make the national anthem gender neutral was blocked when Conservative MPs used up the hour of debate time and refused consent to two motions backed by both the Liberals and the NDP to extend debate and allow time to hold a vote to send the bill to committee.[7][8] As Bélanger's health was deteriorating, Liberal MP Greg Fergus described the Conservative's procedural delay tactics as an attempt to prevent Bélanger from seeing the bill passed, while Conservative MPs insisted that they were debating an important issue and had followed parliamentary procedure.[7][8] Fellow Liberal MP Linda Lapointe gave up her timeslot for private member's business on May 30 to allow Bélanger's bill to be heard and go to a vote for it to be sent to committee the following day.[9]


Bélanger has earned recognition for his promotion of francophone rights. In 2012, Belanger asked the House of Commons to create a committee to examine the role of co-ops in the Canadian economy. This motion was unanimously passed by the House of Commons.[10] He presided over the Canadian House of Commons for one day as an honorary Speaker on March 9, 2016, a job he aspired before his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[11] Later that year, Bélanger became the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS.[12]


He was given the title of Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Pléiade in 2005. The Ordre de la Pléiade is a francophone order which focuses on contributions made to international friendship and cooperation. In 2007, László Sólyom, President of Hungary, made him an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. In April 2009, the Royal Canadian Legion recognized Belanger's for his contribution to the promotion of goodwill.

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 36,474 57.57 +19.47
New Democratic Emilie Taman 12,194 19.25 -9.43
Conservative David Piccini 12,109 19.11 -8.84
Green Nira Dookeran 1,947 3.07 -1.99
Libertarian Coreen Corcoran 503 0.79
Marxist–Leninist Christian Legeais 128 0.2 -0.03
Total valid votes/Expense limit 63,355 100.0   $218,727.98
Total rejected ballots 418
Turnout 63,773
Canadian federal election, 2011: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 20,009 38.17 -8.03
New Democratic Trevor Haché 15,391 29.36 +12.30
Conservative Rem Westland 14,184 27.06 -0.22
Green Caroline Rioux 2,716 5.18 -3.40
Marxist–Leninist Christian Legeais 122 0.23 -0.02
Total valid votes/Expense limit 52,422 100.00
Total rejected ballots 316 0.60 +0.07
Turnout 52,738 68.24 +4.20
Canadian federal election, 2008: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 23,948 46.20 +3.89 $79,668
Conservative Patrick Glémaud 14,138 27.28 -1.39 $53,405
New Democratic Trevor Haché 8,845 17.06 -4.75 $30,040
Green Akbar Manoussi 4,447 8.58 +1.98 $3,842
Independent Robert Larter 227 0.44
Marxist–Leninist Christian Legeais 130 0.25 +0.04
Canadian Action Michel St-Onge 100 0.19 $149
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,835 100.00 $85,605
Total rejected ballots 277 0.53
Turnout 52,112 64.04
     Liberal hold Swing +2.64
Canadian federal election, 2006: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 23,567 42.31 -6.86
Conservative Paul Benoit 15,970 28.67 +4.48
New Democratic Ric Dagenais 12,145 21.81 +3.27
Green Raphaël Thierrin 3,675 6.60 -0.27
Progressive Canadian James C. Parsons 221 0.40
Marxist–Leninist Alexandre Legeais 117 0.21 -0.28
Total valid votes 55,695 100.00
     Liberal hold Swing -5.67
Canadian federal election, 2004: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 25,952 49.17 -6.40
Conservative Kevin Friday 12,769 24.19 -6.95
New Democratic Ric Dagenais 9,787 18.54 +9.83
Green Raphaël Thierrin 3,628 6.87 +4.62
Marijuana Carol Taylor 558 1.06 -0.45
Marxist–Leninist Françoise Roy 85 0.49 +0.34
Total valid votes 52,779 100.00
Canadian federal election, 2000: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 26,749 55.57 -6.30
Alliance Nestor Gayowsky 7,590 15.77 +5.97
Progressive Conservative Stephen Woollcombe 7,400 15.37 +1.77
New Democratic Joseph Zebrowski 4,194 8.71 -3.28
Green Adam Sommerfeld 1,083 2.25 +0.94
Marijuana Raymond Turmel 728 1.51
Natural Law Pierrette Blondin 187 0.39 -0.27
Canadian Action Raymond Samuéls 131 0.27
Marxist–Leninist Kim Roberge 74 0.15 -0.13
Total valid votes 48,136 100.00
Canadian federal election, 1997: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 30,728 61.87 +1.14
Progressive Conservative Luc Edmund Barrick 6,754 13.60 +3.92
New Democratic David Gagnon 5,952 11.99 +5.57
Reform Roy Grant 4,868 9.80 -10.76
Green Richard Guy Briggs 651 1.31
Natural Law Roger Bouchard 330 0.66 +0.10
Independent César Antonio Bello 241 0.49
Marxist–Leninist Robert Rival 138 0.28 -0.03
Total valid votes 49,662 100.00

Canadian federal by-election, February 13, 1995: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Mauril Bélanger 11,918 60.06 −10.41 $52,001
  Reform Kevin Gaudet 4,034 20.33 +12.44 $36,995
  Progressive Conservative Françoise Guenette 1,899 9.57 −0.96 $30,933
  New Democratic Party Bob Lawson 1,259 6.34 −0.16 $5,764
  Christian Heritage Gilles Gauthier 299 1.51 $1,751
Green Frank de Jong 218 1.10 −0.24 $0
  Natural Law Ian A.G. Campbell 109 0.55 −0.35 $131
  Marxist-Leninist Serge Lafortune 61 0.31 +0.02 $136
  Abolitionist John Turmel 46 0.23 +0.17 $0
Total valid votes 19,843 100.00
Total rejected ballots 201
Turnout 20,004 30.39 −32.04
Electors on the lists 65,824
Ottawa municipal election, 1976: By-St. George's Ward
Candidate Votes %
Georges Bedard (X) 2,785 80.06
Mauril Bélanger 694 19.95


  1. ^ "Catholic MPs stand ground on abortion despite threat". Ottawa Citizen. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "PARLINFO - Parliamentarian File - Complete File - BÉLANGER, The Hon. Mauril, P.C., B.A.". Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "Veteran MP Bélanger, diagnosed with ALS, to sit for a day as honorary Speaker". Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  4. ^ "Mauril Bélanger will continue as Ottawa–Vanier MP after ALS diagnosis". Ottawa Citizen. November 30, 2015. 
  5. ^ "MP Mauril Bélanger uses voice generator to introduce bill". Retrieved 2016-01-28. 
  6. ^ Wherry, Aaron (2016-03-09). "Commons Sketch: Mauril Bélanger takes Speaker's chair in "rare moment of grace" for Parliament". CBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  7. ^ a b c Urback, Robyn (May 10, 2016). "Robyn Urback: How do you make Parliament even more excruciating to watch? Accuse the other guys of delaying a dying man’s wish". National Post. Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Bryden, Joan (May 6, 2016). "Tories Block Bid To See Mauril Belanger's Gender-Neutral Anthem Bill Passed". Huffington Post Canada. The Canadian Press. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  9. ^ O'Malley, Kady (May 11, 2016). "Ailing MP’s 'O Canada' bill gets second chance after colleague gives up spot". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Mauril Bélanger a Champion in the Co-op Movement". Axiom News. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger Takes the Lead as the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS | ALS Canada". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 

External links[edit]

27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
vacant Minister for Internal Trade
Albina Guarnieri Associate Minister of National Defence
' Minister of State
styled as
Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Pierre Pettigrew Minister responsible for Official Languages
Josée Verner
Jacques Saada Minister responsible for Democratic Reform
Position retitled - see Belinda Stronach
Special Parliamentary Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Paul DeVillers Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Canada)