Speaker of the House of Commons (Canada)

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Speaker of the House of Commons
Président de la Chambre des communes
Anthony Rota - 2023 P060471-316758 (cropped).jpg
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
WebsiteOfficial website

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. A member of Parliament (MP), they are elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow 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.

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.


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. They are 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$274,500 ($185,800 as an MP in addition to $88,700 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 (RCMP).[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 the early 1980s.[7]

The speaker and their deputies preside over debates of the House of Commons, invite particular members to speak, maintain order and decorum (including reproving members who misbehave), and make rulings on points of order and points of privilege. By parliamentary rule and tradition, all statements in the House are addressed to the speaker, never to another member. For example, one does not say, "Prime Minister, will you explain to this House...", or "Thank you for the question." Instead, one would say, "Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister explain to this House..." or "Madam Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question." Members are not allowed to speak while the speaker is speaking, and must sit down when the speaker rises to speak.

By convention, speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as "Mr. Speaker," for a man, and "Madam Speaker", for a woman. Deputies of the speaker who are presiding at a given time are also addressed as "Mr./Madam Speaker."


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 their 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 they are "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[edit]

The speaker usually comes from among MPs of the governing party. But because they cannot vote unless their 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 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.


The speaker is required to perform their office impartially, but does not resign from their 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[edit]

On May 19, 2005, Speaker Peter Milliken 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, almost more than all previous speakers combined.[18]

Deputy speaker[edit]

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 deputy speaker of the 44th Canadian Parliament was Chris d'Entremont (Conservative); and the assistant deputy speaker was Carol Hughes (NDP).[20]

The Chair of Committees is vested by Subsection 43(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act with full and adequate authority to address matters in the titular Speaker's absence: "Whenever the House of Commons is informed of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker thereof by the Clerk at the table, the Chairman of Committees, if present, shall take the chair and perform the duties and exercise the authority of Speaker in relation to all the proceedings of the House, as Deputy Speaker."[21]


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 (Roland Michener and Jeanne Sauvé). 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 served as leader of the Opposition from 2017 to 2020.

Honorary Speaker[edit]

On March 9, 2016 Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger served as honorary speaker for about an hour to honour his years of service.[22] Speaker Regan resumed his duties for the remainder of the sitting of the House.

Mauril Bélanger had initially been considered a front runner for the post of Speaker the previous year, but had withdrawn due to his being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Bélanger died on August 15, 2016, five months after being named honorary speaker.[22]


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[edit]


Speaker Tenure Parliament(s) Term length Party Riding
1 James Cockburn.jpg James Cockburn November 6, 1867 March 5, 1874 1st, 2nd 6 years, 99 days Conservative Northumberland West
2 Honorable Timothy Warren Anglin BAnQ Vieux-Montréal 06M P750S1P105.tiff Timothy Warren Anglin March 26, 1874 February 12, 1879 3rd 4 years, 323 days Liberal Gloucester
3 JosephGodricBlanchet23.jpg Joseph Godéric Blanchet February 13, 1879 February 7, 1883 4th 3 years, 359 days Liberal-Conservative Lévis
4 GeorgeAireyKirkpatrick23.jpg George Airey Kirkpatrick February 8, 1883 July 12, 1887 5th, 6th 4 years, 154 days Conservative Frontenac
5 Joseph-Aldric Ouimet.png Joseph-Aldric Ouimet July 13, 1887 July 28, 1891 6th, 7th 4 years, 15 days Liberal-Conservative Laval
6 PeterWhite23.jpg Peter White July 29, 1891 August 18, 1896 7th 5 years, 21 days Conservative Renfrew North
7 James David Edgar.jpg James David Edgar August 19, 1896 July 31, 1899 8th 2 years, 346 days Liberal Ontario West
8 Thomas Bain.jpg Thomas Bain August 1, 1899 February 5, 1901 8th 1 year, 188 days Liberal Wentworth South
9 Louis Philippe Brodeur.jpg Louis Philippe Brodeur February 6, 1901 January 18, 1904 9th 2 years, 346 days Liberal Rouville
10 H.A. Belcourt LCCN2014717892.jpg Napoléon Antoine Belcourt March 10, 1904 January 10, 1905 9th 306 days Liberal Ottawa (City of)
11 RobertFranklinSutherland23.jpg Robert Franklin Sutherland January 11, 1905 January 19, 1909 10th 4 years, 0 days Liberal Essex North
12 Charles Marcil.jpg Charles Marcil January 20, 1909 November 14, 1911 11th 2 years, 298 days Liberal Bonaventure
13 Thomas Simpson Sproule.jpg Thomas Simpson Sproule November 15, 1911 December 2, 1915 12th 4 years, 17 days Conservative Grey East
14 Albert Sévigny.jpg Albert Sévigny January 12, 1916 January 7, 1917 12th 361 days Conservative Dorchester
15 Edgar Nelson Rhodes (cropped).jpg Edgar Nelson Rhodes January 18, 1917 March 5, 1922 12th, 13th 5 years, 46 days Conservative Cumberland
16 Rodolphe Lemieux.jpg Rodolphe Lemieux March 8, 1922 June 2, 1930 14th, 15th, 16th 8 years, 86 days Liberal Gaspé
17 George Black, Commissioner of the Yukon.jpg George Black September 8, 1930 January 16, 1935 17th 4 years, 130 days Conservative Yukon
18 James Langstaff Bowman January 17, 1935 February 5, 1936 17th 1 year, 19 days Conservative Dauphin
19 Pierre-François Casgrain.png Pierre-François Casgrain February 6, 1936 May 10, 1940 18th 4 years, 94 days Liberal Charlevoix-Saguenay
20 James Allison Glen.jpg James Allison Glen May 16, 1940 September 5, 1945 19th 5 years, 112 days Liberal Marquette
21 Gaspard Fauteux September 6, 1945 September 14, 1949 20th 4 years, 69 days Liberal St. Mary
22 William Ross Macdonald.jpg William Ross Macdonald September 15, 1949 June 11, 1953 21st 3 years, 269 days Liberal Brantford
23 Louis-René Beaudoin November 12, 1953 October 13, 1957 22nd 3 years, 335 days Liberal Vaudreuil-Soulanges
24 Governor General Roland Michener at Alma College graduation ceremonies 1972 (crop).jpg Roland Michener October 14, 1957 September 26, 1962 23rd, 24th 4 years, 347 days Progressive Conservative St. Paul's
25 Marcel Lambert September 27, 1962 May 15, 1963 25th 230 days Progressive Conservative Edmonton West
26 Alan Macnaughton May 16, 1963 January 17, 1966 26th 2 years, 246 days Liberal Mount Royal
27 Lucien Lamoureux January 18, 1966 September 29, 1974 27th 8 years, 253 days Liberal Stormont-Dundas
27 28th, 29th Independent
28 James Jerome September 30, 1974 December 14, 1979 30th, 31st 5 years, 75 days Liberal Sudbury
29 Jeanne Sauvé 1984 Ottawa Canada (crop).jpg Jeanne Sauvé April 14, 1980 January 15, 1984 32nd 3 years, 276 days Liberal Laval-des-Rapides
30 Lloyd Francis January 16, 1984 November 4, 1984 32nd 293 days Liberal Ottawa West
31 John Bosley - 2017 (38244233971) (cropped).jpg John Bosley November 5, 1984 September 29, 1986 33rd 1 year, 328 days Progressive Conservative Don Valley West
32 John Allen Fraser September 30, 1986 January 16, 1994 33rd, 34th 7 years, 108 days Progressive Conservative Vancouver South
33 Gilbert Parent.jpg Gilbert Parent January 17, 1994 January 28, 2001 35th, 36th 7 years, 11 days Liberal Welland—St. Catharines—Thorold
Niagara Centre
34 Chopin at the Embassy of Poland (05) cropped.jpg Peter Milliken January 29, 2001 June 2, 2011 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th 10 years, 124 days Liberal Kingston and the Islands
35 Andrew Scheer 2019 (3x4 cropped).jpg Andrew Scheer June 2, 2011 December 2, 2015 41st 4 years, 183 days Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle
36 Geoff Regan MP.jpg Geoff Regan December 3, 2015 December 5, 2019 42nd 4 years, 2 days Liberal Halifax West
37 Anthony Rota - 2023 P060471-316758 (cropped).jpg Anthony Rota December 5, 2019 Present 43rd, 44th 3 years, 174 days Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming


  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. ^ a b 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. ^ "What's in a Name: Speaker/Orateur/Président". Archived from the original on April 16, 2005. 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". Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  10. ^ [1][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 44th Parliament". Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  21. ^ Brassard, John (March 24, 2022). "44TH PARLIAMENT, 1ST SESSION EDITED HANSARD • No. 045 CONTENTS THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2022". Parliament of Canada. Hansard.
  22. ^ a b 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.

External links[edit]

  • Parliamentary Library of Canada - contains biographies of all of Canada's speakers and information on the historical development and current role of the position.