Speaker of the House of Commons (Canada)
|Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada|
Mr/Madam Speaker (In the House)
|Appointer||Elected by the members of the House of Commons|
|Term length||Elected at the start of each Parliament|
|Inaugural holder||James Cockburn|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
|Government of Canada|
The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada (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 (see Speaker of the House of Commons). The current Speaker is Andrew Scheer.
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 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 of the House of Commons receives a salary of about $230,000 CAD and has use of the official residence, The Farm, an estate located at Kingsmere in Gatineau Park, Quebec, across the river from Ottawa.
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 British House of Commons, was used until a few decades ago. By convention, Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as "Mister Speaker", for a male, and "Madame Speaker", for a female.
While the Constitution requires that the Speaker be elected by the House of Commons, traditionally this amounted to the rubber-stamp approval of a Member nominated by the Prime Minister. 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 the Speakership. 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.
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.
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 in a practice dating from the days when British Speakers risked execution if the news they reported to the King was displeasing.
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). Speaker Scheer is the youngest Speaker in Canadian history.
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 NDP), who declined. So far, every Speaker from an opposition party has been a Liberal.
The Speaker is required to perform his 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 British House of Commons 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 future Speakers would not repeat 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.
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. 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." 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 six occasions, more than all previous Speakers combined.
In addition to the Speaker, a Deputy Speaker, also known as the Chair of Committees of the Whole or "Chair of Committees", 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.
The Deputy Speaker is Joe Comartin, and the other two presiding officers for the first session are Deputy Chair of Committees Barry Devolin (Conservative) and Assistant Deputy Chair Bruce Stanton (Conservative).
The Speaker's counterpart in the upper house is the Speaker of the Canadian Senate. 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
|1||James Cockburn||November 6, 1867||March 5, 1874||Conservative||Northumberland West|
|2||Timothy Warren Anglin||March 26, 1874||February 12, 1879||Liberal||Gloucester|
|3||Joseph Godéric Blanchet||February 13, 1879||February 7, 1883||Liberal-Conservative||Lévis|
|4||George Airey Kirkpatrick||February 8, 1883||July 12, 1887||Conservative||Frontenac|
|5||Joseph-Aldéric Ouimet||July 13, 1887||July 28, 1891||Liberal-Conservative||Laval|
|6||Peter White||July 29, 1891||August 18, 1896||Conservative||Renfrew North|
|7||James David Edgar||August 19, 1896||July 31, 1899||Liberal||Ontario West|
|8||Thomas Bain||August 1, 1899||February 5, 1901||Liberal||Wentworth South|
|9||Louis Philippe Brodeur||February 6, 1901||January 18, 1904||Liberal||Rouville|
|10||Napoléon Antoine Belcourt||March 10, 1904||January 10, 1905||Liberal||Ottawa (City of)|
|11||Robert Franklin Sutherland||January 11, 1905||January 19, 1909||Liberal||Essex North|
|12||Charles Marcil||January 20, 1909||November 14, 1911||Liberal||Bonaventure|
|13||Thomas Simpson Sproule||November 15, 1911||December 2, 1915||Conservative||Grey East|
|14||Albert Sévigny||January 12, 1916||January 7, 1917||Conservative||Dorchester|
|15||Edgar Nelson Rhodes||January 18, 1917||March 5, 1922||Conservative||Cumberland|
|16||Rodolphe Lemieux||March 8, 1922||June 2, 1930||Liberal||Gaspé|
|17||George Black||September 8, 1930||January 16, 1935||Conservative||Yukon|
|18||James Langstaff Bowman||January 17, 1935||February 5, 1936||Conservative||Dauphin|
|19||Pierre-François Casgrain||February 6, 1936||May 10, 1940||Liberal||Charlevoix-Saguenay|
|20||James Allison Glen||May 16, 1940||September 5, 1945||Liberal||Marquette|
|21||Gaspard Fauteux||September 6, 1945||September 14, 1949||Liberal||St. Mary|
|22||William Ross Macdonald||September 15, 1949||June 11, 1953||Liberal||Brantford|
|23||Louis-René Beaudoin||November 12, 1953||October 13, 1957||Liberal||Vaudreuil-Soulanges|
|24||Roland Michener||October 14, 1957||September 26, 1962||Progressive Conservative||St. Paul's|
|25||Marcel Lambert||September 27, 1962||May 15, 1963||Progressive Conservative||Edmonton West|
|26||Alan Macnaughton||May 16, 1963||January 17, 1966||Liberal||Mount Royal|
|27||Lucien Lamoureux||January 18, 1966||September 29, 1974||Liberal/Independent++||Stormont-Dundas|
|28||James Alexander Jerome||September 30, 1974||December 14, 1979||Liberal||Sudbury|
|29||Jeanne Sauvé||April 14, 1980||January 15, 1984||Liberal||Laval-des-Rapides|
|30||Cyril Lloyd Francis||January 16, 1984||November 4, 1984||Liberal||Ottawa West|
|31||John William Bosley||November 5, 1984||September 29, 1986||Progressive Conservative||Don Valley West|
|32||John Allen Fraser||September 30, 1986||January 16, 1994||Progressive Conservative||Vancouver South|
|33||Gilbert Parent||January 17, 1994||January 28, 2001||Liberal||Welland—St. Catharines—Thorold
|34||Peter Milliken||January 29, 2001||June 2, 2011||Liberal||Kingston and the Islands|
|35||Andrew Scheer||June 2, 2011||Incumbent||Conservative||Regina-Qu'Appelle|
- "About Parliament: Traditions of Parliament". parliament.co.uk. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- House of Commons Journals, No. 3, June 6, 2006.
- Parliamentary Library of Canada - contains biographies of all of Canada's speakers and information on the historical development and current role of the position.