MPs elect youngest Speaker
- Thursday: House returns to elect Speaker
- Friday: MPs, Senators convene in Senate for throne speech, 3 p.m. ET
- Monday: First question period of 41st Parliament, 2:15 p.m. ET
- Monday: Finance minister delivers revised budget, 4 p.m. ET
Andrew Scheer has been elected Speaker of the House of Commons, the youngest MP in Canadian history to win the job.
Scheer, a 32-year-old from Saskatchewan, claimed the title after a long day of voting by MPs on their first day back on Parliament Hill.
Scheer was chosen out of eight candidates and it took six rounds of voting before he was finally declared the winner. He beat out the NDP's Denise Savoie on the final ballot. Both Scheer and Savoie had experience as deputy Speaker in the previous Parliament.
After the final results were announced, Scheer was escorted to the Speaker's chair by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition leader Jack Layton.
"I will do my best to live up to the trust that you've placed in me. I can't claim that I'll ever be perfect, but you can count on one thing, that I'll give 100 per cent to the job that you've given me today," Scheer told MPs following his victory.
"We all do sincerely want Canada to be the best that it can be," he said.
Harper, Layton, Liberal interim leader Bob Rae and Green party leader Elizabeth May all made brief remarks to offer their congratulations to the new Speaker.
"Your election by secret ballot bears witness to the confidence that we place in you, in your sense of fairness, and especially in your ability to maintain the dignity and decorum in the debates," Harper said.
"You are the custodian of a great parliamentary tradition ... it bears noting, Mr. Speaker, that you are the nation's top referee and its linesman too. Your guidance will ensure that nobody crosses the line or goes offside. Most important, we will do our best to ensure there are no fights for you to break up," he said.
Scheer's fellow Conservative MPs Dean Allison, Barry Devolin, Ed Holder, Lee Richardson, Bruce Stanton and Merv Tweed were also in the running for the Speaker position.
The Speaker election was the first order of business Thursday, the first day of the 41st Parliament. The lengthy process began at 11 a.m. ET, with MPs entering the House of Commons, more than 100 of them for the very first time, to listen to speeches by the candidates.
Each made their pitch to their colleagues, many of them emphasized the need for more civility and respect in the Commons, and voting got underway in the early afternoon.
Scheer told his fellow MPs in his speech that "toxic language" has too often crept into their debates and Canadians are disappointed by their name-calling and other behaviour.
Upholding the rights and privileges is an important function of the Speaker, Scheer said, and he promised to do it, if elected.
"Based on my experience, my passion for this place, my fair enforcement of the rules, I humbly ask for your support," he said.
The last-place finishers and any candidate receiving less than 5 per cent of the vote were dropped off the ballot with each round. Allison and Stanton were the first to lose, followed by Holder after the second, then Devolin after the third.
The fourth round passed and Tweed was dropped, followed by Richardson, who speaks little French, after the fifth.
The race for Speaker proved to be more competitive than usual. Liberal MP Peter Milliken had a lock on the job for a decade but with his retirement, the field was opened up and eight MPs competed for the perk-filled position.
Savoie was the only woman, and only NDP candidate, up against the seven Conservatives. The Liberals and Bloc Québécois, with only 34 and four MPs, respectively, didn’t put forward any candidates. The Speaker acts as a non-partisan MP and sacrifices the ability to vote in the Commons, except when a tie must be broken.
After six ballots a new Speaker was declared. Names marked by an X were dropped during rounds of voting.
X - Dean Allison, 46, Niagara West-Glanbrook, Ont. Elected: 2004 Allison chaired the foreign affairs committee in the last Parliament.
X - Barry Devolin, 48, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Ont. Elected: 2004 Devolin was a deputy Speaker in the last Parliament.
X - Ed Holder, 57, London West, Ont. Elected: 2008 Member of international trade and government operations committees.
X - Lee Richardson, 64, Calgary Centre Elected: 1988, reelected in 2004 Richardson has had a long career in politics at the federal and provincial levels.
X - Denise Savoie, 68, Victoria, B.C. Elected: 2006 The NDP's Savoie was the lone opposition candidate and was a deputy Speaker in the last Parliament.
Andrew Scheer, 32, Regina-Qu'Appelle, Sask. Elected: 2004 Scheer is the youngest Speaker in Canadian history. He was deputy Speaker in the last Parliament and says he knows the rules.
X - Bruce Stanton, 53, Simcoe North, Ont. Elected: 2006 Stanton chaired the aboriginal affairs committee in the last Parliament.
X - Merv Tweed, 55, Brandon-Souris, Man. Elected: 2004 Tweed has been a critic and committee chair.
A day of voting — and mixing
Scheer was not alone in promising to improve decorum in the House of Commons.
"This is our place, these are our choices and it begins by building respectful relationships with each other," said Holder. He said he would follow the example set by Milliken who would often host events to encourage MPs to come together in non-partisan ways. "It is my intention to carry on with these important traditions."
Savoie said as Speaker she would help restore the faith of Canadians in Parliament and she called for Thursday to be a "turning point."
"Let that change begin today," she said.
Richardson noted that the Speaker also acts as an ambassador for Canada when leading delegations abroad.
"I shall represent you and this Parliament with dignity, purpose and honour," the Calgary MP said.
Power & Politics: The War Room
In today's podcast, Evan Solomon speaks with former Speaker Peter Milliken.
In between the rounds of voting, MPs mixed and mingled in the "hospitality suites" that some of the candidates had set up for the day.
Tweed, for example, invited all MPs to stop by his suite before the voting got underway. He was serving Starbucks coffee and wine throughout the day. Other candidates offered food and drinks to their colleagues as they tried to win their support throughout the voting rounds. Devolin served ice cream and Scheer offered drinks, cupcakes and other snacks. He noted he was serving Tim Hortons coffee, "Canadian" coffee.
The hosting of receptions by candidates is unusual; normally they don't campaign for the position so openly. But Scheer said it's being done as a courtesy for MPs who could be spending a long afternoon on the Hill.
"I don't think there's anything over the top about it, it's just a nice place for people to mix and mingle," he said. It also gives MPs a chance to meet some of their new colleagues, said Scheer.
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With a Speaker now elected, Gov. Gen. David Johnston will read the speech from the throne on Friday.
When MPs filed into the Commons Thursday morning, it was the very first time for more than 100 of them. The 41st Parliament is made up of a large class of rookies, and many are from the new Official Opposition, the NDP. History was made when Layton took his seat directly across from Harper, who returned to the Commons with his first majority government.
Until now, the NDP caucus had sat in the far corners of the Commons, but those seats are now occupied by the Liberals, who suffered a historic defeat on May 2, along with the Bloc Québécois. The former leaders of both those parties, Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe, lost their seats and resigned.
History was also made when May entered the Commons chamber as the first Green Party MP elected in Canada.
Perks of the job
The job of Speaker comes with some heavy responsibilities, but there are some enviable perks that go along with it. He or she gets a car and driver, an apartment in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block, a beautiful, 19th-century farmhouse in Gatineau Park, a sizeable budget for entertaining, and a paycheque worth about $233,000.
Which of the Speaker's job perks would you most like to have? Take our survey
The election of the Speaker kicked off a busy couple of days for parliamentarians.
After Friday's throne speech, many MPs will travel to their ridings for the weekend, then return Monday when the House will begin its routine proceedings. The first question period will take place – a historic one that will see Layton pose his first question to the prime minister as Opposition leader.
Monday is also when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will present the federal budget. He has indicated it will be similar to the one tabled in March, with a few tweaks. It will include both a controversial plan to phase out an important source of revenue for the federal political parties, the per-vote subsidy, and more than $2 billion for Quebec in compensation for harmonizing its provincial sales tax with the GST.