Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
The office of Speaker in British Columbia
The Speaker is elected by the Members of the Legislative Assembly ("MLAs") by means of a secret ballot at the commencement of a new parliament, or on the death or retirement of the previous Speaker. Cabinet Ministers are the only MLAs not entitled to stand for election as Speaker. The business of the Legislature cannot continue without a Speaker. Under British Columbia's parliamentary tradition, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia will not open Parliament until a Speaker is elected.
Prior practice had been for the Premier to select the Speaker and have that selection ratified by a vote of the legislature. The Legislative Assembly also appoints a Deputy Speaker, who presides in the absence of the Speaker. During the 38th Parliament, which was elected in the BC general election held on May 17, 2005, the position of Assistant Deputy Speaker was created. This office is usually held by an MLA who represents the official opposition party.
Traditionally, the Speaker has been a member of the governing party; however, while holding the office of Speaker that MLA must act neutrally and treat all other MLAs impartially. The Speaker presides over the debates and procedures of the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker enforces the Rules of Procedure, commonly referred to as the Standing Orders. Any disputes or procedural rulings are made according to the Standing Orders or, in absence of a rule governing a specific situation, to parliamentary precedence and convention. The Speaker does not vote, except in the case of a tie.
Until the early 1990s, the traditional form of address and reference to the Speaker was "Mr. Speaker". Today, the office holder is now referred to as simply the "Speaker", but during debates the MLAs may continue to address the office holder as "Mr. Speaker" or "Madam Speaker". In accordance with parliamentary tradition, all speeches are addressed to the Speaker, and not the other MLAs.
The Speaker is responsible for the legislative precincts, including the Parliament Buildings. The Speaker also sponsors the British Columbia Legislative Internship Program. In addition to his or her duties as Speaker, the Speaker continues to represent the voters of his or her constituency as an MLA.
Speakers of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
- James Trimble (Independent) (1872–1878)
- Frederick W. Williams (Independent) (1878–1882)
- John Andrew Mara (Independent) (1883–1886)
- Charles Edward Pooley (Independent) (1887–1889)
- David Williams Higgins (Independent) (1890–1898)
- John Paton Booth (Independent) (1898)
- William Thomas Forster (1899–1900)
- John Paton Booth (Independent) (1900–1902)
- Charles Edward Pooley (Independent) (1902–1903)
- Charles Edward Pooley (Conservative) (1903–1906)
- David McEwen Eberts (Conservative) (1907–1916)
- John Walter Weart (Liberal) (1917–1918)
- John Keen (Liberal) (1918–1920)
- Alexander Malcolm Manson (Liberal) (1921–1922)
- Frederick Arthur Pauline (Liberal) (1922–1924)
- John Andrew Buckham (Liberal) (1924 - 1928)
- James William Jones (Conservative) (1929–1930)
- Cyril Francis Davie (Conservative) (1931–1933)
- Henry George Thomas Perry (Liberal) (1934–1937)
- Norman William Whittaker (Liberal) (1937–1941)
- Norman William Whittaker (Coalition) (1941–1947)
- Robert Henry Carson (Coalition) (1948–1949)
- John Hart (Coalition) (1949)
- Nancy Hodges (Coalition) (1950–1952)
- Thomas Irwin (Social Credit) (1953–1957)
- Lorne Shantz (Social Credit) (1958–1963)
- William Harvey Murray (Social Credit) (1964–1972)
- Gordon Dowding (NDP) (1972–1975)
- Dean Smith (Social Credit) (1976–1978)
- Harvey Schroeder (Social Credit) (1979–1982)
- Kenneth Walter Davidson (Social Credit) (1982–1986)
- John Douglas Reynolds (Social Credit) (1987–1989)
- Charles Stephen Rogers (Social Credit) (1990–1991)
- Joan Sawicki (NDP) (1992–1994)
- Emery Oakland Barnes (NDP) (1994–1996)
- Laurence Dale Lovick (NDP) (1996–1998)
- Gretchen Mann Brewin (NDP) (1998–2000)
- William James Hartley (NDP) (2000–2001)
- Claude Richmond (Liberal) (2001–2005)
- Bill Barisoff (Liberal) (2005–2013)
- Linda Reid (Liberal) (2013-2017)
- Steve Thomson (Liberal) (2017)
- Political parties were not a part of British Columbia provincial politics until the 1903 election, when Richard McBride formed the British Columbia Conservative Party and won the general election of that year. Prior to 1903 all MLAs were elected as independents.
- In February 1928, Mary Ellen Smith served as Acting Speaker, becoming the first woman to hold the position of Speaker in the British Empire
- "Speakers of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia 1872-" (PDF). BC Legislature. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- Welcome Message from The Speaker (from the British Columbia Legislative Assembly website).