Geoff Regan elected House Speaker as 42nd Parliament opens
MPs voted in a secret ballot, ranking the candidates by order of preference
Geoff Regan has been elected House of Commons Speaker at the opening of a new Parliament following the general election on Oct. 19 that saw the Liberals win a majority government.
Members of Parliament each cast a secret ballot on Thursday ranking the candidates by order of preference in their first act of the new Parliament.
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Three other candidates were vying for the position — Liberals Denis Paradis and Yasmin Ratansi, as well as Conservative Bruce Stanton.
A fifth MP, Mauril Bélanger, was forced to bow out of the race after being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Bélanger was visibly moved when he was acknowledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and received applause from his fellow MPs in the House following the vote.
Liberal George Furey, another parliamentarian from Atlantic Canada, was appointed Speaker of the Senate earlier in the day.
In his acceptance speech, Regan said he was honoured to be the first member of Parliament from Atlantic Canada in nearly 100 years to be elected as Speaker.
He also said today has a special significance for him and his wife Kelly as they celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary. Kelly Regan is also a politician, who sits in the Nova Scotia legislature.
"I'm thrilled for Geoff," his wife told CBC News in Nova Scotia immediately following the announcement.
Asked if she was surprised that he won on the first ballot, she said, "No, actually, it doesn't surprise me because he was making an awful lot of phone calls. He had a lot of support and people who were out there working for him."
Regan also saluted his parents, Carole and Gerald Regan, who were sitting in the gallery inside the House of Commons.
His father, Gerald, served as premier of Nova Scotia in the 1970s and later as a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Regan's mother, Carole, was the daughter of Jack Harrison, a Saskatchewan Liberal member of Parliament.
The current prime minister, who spoke after the Speaker finished his acceptance speech, congratulated Regan on his election and reserved a special mention for his mother.
"To my knowledge," said Trudeau, "only two women in the history of Canada have had the dubious distinction of having been the daughter, the wife, and the mother of a member of Parliament
"One of those women is my mother, the other is yours Mr. Speaker, whom we salute today," Trudeau said.
'I will not tolerate heckling'
The new Speaker put all members of Parliament on notice, telling them in his acceptance speech that he would not tolerate a lack of decorum in the House of Commons.
"My role as your Speaker, is to be fair. And I want to assure you I intend to be fair and I intend to be firm," Regan said.
"I will not tolerate heckling," Regan said to some good-natured ribbing before adding, "we don't need it."
"And we will not tolerate unparliamentary conduct," he said.
Regan, 56, who represents the riding of Halifax West and has served as a backbench MP, a minister and opposition critic during his 18 years in Parliament, said all the various jobs prepared him for his new role.
"I've sat in all corners of this House and I think that will help me to appreciate the different perspective of all members, on all sides."
"I've heard from so many of you," Regan said, "and of your desire for a better atmosphere in this place, for greater respect to be shown among members of Parliament on all sides."
Regan told MPs he believes it's the role of the Speaker to lead discussions on how to reform procedures in the Commons to achieve those goals.
"This is the people's chamber and through them, this is your chamber," Regan said.
Opposition leaders offer Regan their support
Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose congratulated Regan on his election and assured him of her party's collaboration in what she said historians will one day dub "the great Parliament."
"That means that you can count on our co-operation at all times and in all situations."
'If the prime minister is wondering what I'm prepared to do when he does not act in the best interest of Canadians, to him I say … just watch me.- Rona Ambrose, Opposition leader
Borrowing a phrase made famous by Trudeau's father and former prime minister, Ambrose said her party would be there to hold the Liberal government to account.
"If the prime minister is wondering what I'm prepared to do when he does not act in the best interest of Canadians, to him I say … just watch me."
New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair supported Regan's desire to rid the Commons of heckling, saying it was something the party was able to do under the late Jack Layton.
"The NDP will back you on that, we'll be there with you every step of the way."
Mulcair took the time to give a nod to the 10 indigenous MPs, a record number elected to this 42nd Parliament.
"We have attended to an important sea change in this Parliament … and we can all be so proud," he said.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper, who was elected in the Alberta riding of Calgary Heritage, was in the House of Commons Thursday to cast a ballot for a new Speaker.
He was seen giving Ambrose, the Conservative party's interim leader, a hug and shaking hands with various Conservative caucus colleagues including Andrew Scheer, the previous House of Commons Speaker.
Throne speech Friday
The election of a Speaker comes a day ahead of the government's first throne speech, to be delivered Friday by Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
It is likely to be one of the shortest in Canadian history. Insiders say the speech will be little more than a list of the new Liberal government's immediate priorities, with minimal rhetorical flourishes and no surprises.
It won't mention every federal department. It won't recap every single promise made by Trudeau during the federal election campaign.
Rather, it will be a brief recitation of the urgent promises Trudeau intends to move on over the coming year — those aimed at improving the lot of struggling middle-class Canadians foremost among them.
The brevity and tight focus of the speech is modelled on throne speeches in the mother of Parliaments in the United Kingdom, which typically run less than 1,000 words and take the Queen less than 10 minutes to read.
With files from CBC's Mari Ito, Jon Tattrie and The Canadian Press