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Speaker to be chosen by MPs for the first time in 1986

The Story

Until 1986, the Speaker in the House of Commons was appointed by the prime minister. But there's a change coming: on Sept. 30, 1986, members of Parliament will do the choosing. Without a precedent to guide them, the members who would like the job are approaching the vote in very different ways, as CBC reporter Jason Moscovitz learns. Some are working the phones to get the word out, while others say they're doing nothing to sway their fellow MPs. 

Medium: Television
Broadcast Date: Sept. 29, 1986
Program: The National
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Jason Moscovitz
Guests: Reg Stackhouse, Doug Lewis, Marcel Prud'homme, Albert Cooper, Marcel Danis, George Hees
Duration: 4:29

Did You know?

• In 1983, a Commons committee on parliamentary reform recommended a new method of choosing the Speaker. The change was an attempt to reduce partisanship in the House and restore respect for the position. It would also make the Speaker less beholden to the prime minister. 

• There was no nomination process for the vote. All MPs were eligible unless they specifically removed themselves from the ballot for Speaker, and there were 39 names to start. Candidates were not told how many votes they won in each round of voting, or even how they ranked, so many were reluctant to drop off the ballot. The name with the fewest votes was announced after each ballot; the winner had to have 50 per cent plus one.

• In the end, it took until 2 a.m. on Oct. 1,1986 -- 11 hours and 11 rounds after the process began -- before John Fraser emerged as the winner.


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