Politics

Liberal MP Anthony Rota elected Speaker of the House of Commons

Liberal MP Anthony Rota will preside over the rocky waters of a minority Parliament as the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

5 MPs were vying to sit in Speaker's chair

Liberal MP Anthony Rota speaks after being elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Liberal MP Anthony Rota will preside over the new minority Parliament as the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

Rota beat four other candidates in a vote this morning, including caucus colleague Geoff Regan, who was Speaker during the last session of Parliament and had wished to stay on.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer jokingly dragged Rota to the Speaker's chair, per tradition, the Ontario MP thanked his colleagues for choosing him to be the House's peace keeper.

"I'm here to serve you and make sure that everything runs well for all of us, so that we can conduct the business of Parliament and make sure that it works well," he said.

"My promise is to be fair ... to be nonpartisan, and to do my best in this House, at your service."

Rota, who represents Nipissing-Timiskaming, choked up while talking about the honour of being the first Canadian of Italian descent to sit in the Speaker's chair and gave a shout-out to his daughter, who was finishing her university exams today.

After Rota's speech, the party leaders took turns to congratulate him and address the House for the first time since October's election.

"While I know that every member will strive to ensure constructive and, therefore, productive debates, there will be times where differences will get the best of us and have us get carried away," said Trudeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer jokingly drag Liberal MP Anthony Rota to the Speaker's chair after he was elected as the new Speaker of the House of Commons, in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2019 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

"We'll then look to you, Mr. Speaker, Parliament's referee, to keep us in line. I know you to be uniquely qualified to assume this role."

Conservative Leader Scheer joked that Rota might rule over a short session, but added he knows Rota will serve with dignity and professionalism.

Job perks

The leaders also made a point of thanking Halifax West MP Regan for his service over the past four years. Regan was elected Speaker after the 2015 federal election, when the Liberals had a majority government.

Two Conservative MPs — Joël Godin, who represents the Quebec riding of Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier, and Bruce Stanton, who represents Simcoe North in Ontario — put their names forward to sit in the big chair. The NDP's Ontario MP Carol Hughes, who represents Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, was also a candidate.

Rota has already worn a pair of Speaker robes as both he and Hughes served as assistant deputy Speakers in the last Parliament. Stanton served as deputy Speaker over the same period.

The position comes with considerable perks, including an $85,500 top-up to an MP's $178,900 salary.

It also comes with an apartment on Parliament Hill, an official residence at Kingsmere in Chelsea, Que., and an office budget of $1.2 million that includes up to $196,091 for hospitality and a car.

The day began with the clerk of the House of Commons calling on the longest-serving current MP — right now, that's the Bloc's Louis Plamondon — to take the Speaker's chair and become the "presiding officer."

Plamondon then named the candidates. Each got five minutes to speak before MPs voted, using a single preferential ballot system.

In his speech, Rota promised to serve all MPs and said he would be open to hearing all ideas on how to improve proceedings.

Ontario Liberal MP Anthony Rota has been elected as the new Speaker of the House of Commons. He was 'dragged' to the chair by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Official Opposition leader Andrew Scheer today, keeping with tradition. Rota is promising to be fair and implored his colleagues to be civil during this session of parliament. 1:05

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