Inside Politics

UPDATED: Kingsmere awaits! The race for the Speaker's chair...

UPDATE (June1):

When the list of candidates was released late Wednesday, we learned that Brian Jean was, in fact, not running (or no longer running?) for Speaker.


UPDATE (May 30):

Liberal Mauril Bélanger has decided not to run for Speaker and has removed his name from consideration.


UPDATE (May 26):

As I tweeted yesterday, Ed Holder (Conservative, London West) has officially joined the race.

Our sources here at also tell us that now-former parliamentary secretary Brian Jean is going to shift gears and run for the Speaker's chair as well.

By my count, that makes a field of 9, so far confirmed: the NDP's Savoie, and Tories Scheer, Devolin, Tweed, Stanton, Alison, Holder, Richardson and Jean. Liberal Mauril Bélanger would make it ten, if he decides to run.


UPDATE (May 24):

As you may have seen in this space late last week, an Opposition candidate has now emerged: Denise Savoie (NDP, Victoria) issued a press release confirming she will run.

This coverage of Savoie's announced candidacy included a pledge from current Deputy Speaker and perceived front-runner Andrew Scheer (Conservative, Regina-Qu'Appelle) to improve decorum in the House if he is elected.

Our Kady is liveblogging a news conference by another candidate, Ontario Conservative MP Barry Devolin, who's making public his idea for a potential change: creating a "MP liaison" position in the House Speaker's office to address individual Parliamentarians' concerns about how the House works/fails to work.

Ontario Conservative MP Bruce Stanton's office has confirmed that he is running for Speaker.

Last week, Manitoba Conservative MP Merv Tweed was focused on dealing with the flooding issues around his hometown of Brandon. But he's expected to make it official later today that he'll be joining the race as well. The Hill Times is reporting already that he's in.

Mauril Bélanger is considering letting his name stand as the Liberal candidate for the job, but his office tells me he hasn't made a final decision.

Ontario Conservative MP Ed Holder also has not made a final decision on his candidacy.


Original post:

I know, I know... compared to the high-drama tenure of Peter Milliken, it doesn't feel like there's quite as much at stake in choosing a Speaker for the House of Commons to serve during the upcoming majority Parliament.

But that doesn't mean it isn't important in its own administrative and symbolic ways. And between the perks and the prestige, it remains a job worth striving for, even if the future Speaker is far less likely to be called upon to cast tie-breaking votes or make rulings that influence the fate of a minority government.

Some wonder whether Stephen Harper may want to influence the race this time. But the Prime Minister's hand was not evident in the arguably higher-stakes elections in 2006 or 2008, and at least one anonymous source told QMI that PMO intends to remain "hands off" this time.

On June 2, the first day of the new Parliamentary session, the House will meet as a Committee of the Whole to vote.

MPs who are not willing to serve as Speaker must remove their names from consideration before the election of the new Speaker starts. In the past, some MPs have forgotten to do this, so the first ballot for Speaker had more names than those actually campaigning for the job.

So who's running?

Although we won't know for sure until Parliament reconvenes, some of the serious contenders confirmed their interest early.

Saskatchewan Conservative Andrew Scheer was deputy Speaker in the last Parliament and confirmed his intentions mere days after the election. If chosen, he would be the youngest Speaker in history -- fitting, perhaps, for a House of Commons with many young faces on the Opposition benches, including the youngest MP in history

Ontario Conservative Barry Devolin also has confirmed to local media that he will run. Devolin was an assistant deputy for the previous Parliament.

British Columbia New Democrat Denise Savoie was also a deputy in the previous House. A call to her office to ask whether she will let her name stand this time was not immediately returned.

Another final-ballot contender in the previous Speaker's election, Manitoba Conservative Merv Tweed, told his local paper immediately following the election that the Speaker's chair "wasn't what he was thinking about" just then, but his name has been mentioned. A call to his office has yet to be returned.

CBC sources confirm, and at least one Conservative blogger is tweeting, that Calgary Conservative MP Lee Richardson is campaigning for the job.

This week's Hill Times reports Ontario Conservative Dean Allison also wants the job.

Looking across the names of confirmed contenders, there's a shortage of francophone/Quebec names. It's hard to imagine a Speaker who is not fluently bilingual in the chair. It's even harder to imagine any of the Quebec MPs from any party, or francophone MPs from outside Quebec for that matter, supporting a candidate who does not speak French fluently. So there's a large block of votes to be had for any candidate meeting this criteria.

On Monday, Government House Leader John Baird was asked whether the Speaker should be bilingual. He said it wasn't for him to say.

If Denise Savoie does let her name stand, she is fluently bilingual.

In the past, bilingual Ottawa MP Royal Galipeau (Conservative) served as a deputy. A call to his office has not yet been returned.

Ontario NDP veteran Joe Comartin, who also speaks French, ran for the Speaker's chair in 2008 but will not do so this time -- but he had another suggestion of who might be good for the role: Ontario Conservative Michael Chong, whose campaign for Question Period reform earned him a lot of respect in recent years.

But, as he did here, Chong made it pretty clear to me a few days after the election that he has interests and goals that are ill-suited to a term in the political equivalent of Switzerland.

For any of the candidates, it's not clear whether a term as Speaker would rule out other more partisan roles in the future.

It is clear that serving as a deputy for a session does not: former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl served as one of the deputies as an Opposition MP prior to the election of the first Harper government in 2006.

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