House of Commons Hansard #1 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

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The 38th Parliament having been dissolved by proclamation on Tuesday, November 29, 2005, and writs having been issued and returned, a new Parliament was summoned to meet for the dispatch of business on Monday, April 3, 2006, and did accordingly meet on that day.

Monday, April 3, 2006

This being the day on which Parliament was convoked by proclamation of Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada for the dispatch of business, and the members of the House being assembled:

Audrey O'Brien, Clerk of the House of Commons, read to the House a letter from the Secretary to the Governor General informing her that the Deputy Governor General would proceed to the Senate chamber today at 11 o'clock to open the first session of the 39th Parliament of Canada.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Members of the House of Commons:

It is the desire of the Honourable the Deputy to Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada that this honourable House attend her immediately in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly the House went up to the Senate chamber, where the Speaker of the Senate said:

Honourable Members of the Senate, Members of the House of Commons:

I have it in command to let you know that Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada does not see fit to declare the causes of her summoning the present Parliament of Canada until a Speaker of the House of Commons shall have been chosen, according to law, but tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday April 4, at the hour of three o'clock Her Excellency will declare the causes of her calling Parliament.

And the House being returned to the Commons chamber:

11:20 a.m.

The Clerk of the House

Pursuant to Standing Order 3, I invite Mr. Blaikie, member for the electoral district of Elmwood—Transcona, to take the chair as the member presiding.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

Thank you very much, dear colleagues. Welcome to the 39th Parliament.

I will begin with just a brief history lesson about this particular procedure of electing the Speaker by secret ballot, which was recommended in 1985 by the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons, otherwise known as the McGrath committee. It was recommended at that time as a symbol of the independence of the House from the government and the independence of individual members. As members may know, before that, the Speaker was appointed by the Prime Minister. It is in that spirit that I invite you to participate in this particular exercise today.

The list of members who have withdrawn or who are ineligible as candidates has been placed on each member's desk and is available at the table.

The list of those members who are eligible as candidates has also been placed on each member's desk and is available at the table. Pursuant to Standing Order 3.1, the House must proceed to the speeches from each candidate for the office of the Speaker.

Notwithstanding any standing order or any usual procedure and practice adopted by this House and to help the newly elected members to identify the candidates for the office of Speaker, I will recognize in alphabetical order each candidate by name and by electoral district.

When the last candidate to address the House completes his speech, I will leave the chair for one hour, after which members will proceed to the election of the Speaker.

I will now call upon the hon. Diane Marleau, the honourable member for the electoral district of Sudbury, to address the House for not more than five minutes.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Diane Marleau Sudbury, ON

I say welcome to our hon. colleagues, welcome to this august chamber, the most important place in Canadian democracy. Unfortunately, over the past few years Canadians have become quite disillusioned by the behaviour of some of our colleagues in this august chamber. I would like to say that we owe it to all Canadians to give them an institution they can respect. Therefore, when I was approached by some of our colleagues to allow my name to stand, I agreed. I agreed because I think a positive change would make a tremendous difference in how this House of Commons is run.

My dear colleagues, as you know, I have been a member here in this House for over 17 years. I sat as a member of the opposition for five years. I have served as the minister responsible for various portfolios and I proficiently dealt with all matters before me. I have also served on various committees. Furthermore, I am very familiar with the procedures of this House.

I believe it is absolutely essential that we show respect for one another in this House.

This is a House of great debate and, yes, great disagreement, but we have all been elected by Canadians and we share a common bond of association in that we want to make this a better country. We want to represent our constituents well. To do that, we must have these great debates, but in the end we must respect each other's positions and work together. I propose to be very strict on the language that is used in the House of Commons because it starts with the language. I would call on all of the parties and all of the leaders to work with me to ensure that Canadians regain the respect this institution deserves.

I thank members for their attention.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:25 a.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

I will now call upon Mr. Peter Milliken, the hon. member for the electoral district of Kingston and the Islands, to address the House for not more than five minutes.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Chairman and hon. colleagues, I want to express to each member my congratulations on their re-election or first election to the House.

It is always a pleasure to serve the House as a member of Parliament and I am grateful to the electors of Kingston and the Islands for giving me the mandate to represent them here once again.

For those who are back, I am delighted to see them back. For those who are new, I express my congratulations, and I hope they enjoy their experience as a member of this place.

As members know, I have been considered by some as a bit of a procedural junkie since my election here in 1988. I have enjoyed working in procedural matters from the beginning, whether it was on the opposition side, the government side or in the chair. I have been a chair occupant now since 1996, either as Speaker or Deputy Speaker or Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole House.

During that time I always appreciated the cooperation of the hon. members from every party in the House and I wish to be able to continue in the role of Speaker during this Parliament.

There are three important aspects to being the Speaker of the House. Tomorrow the Speaker will deliver a short speech to the Governor General addressing the most important aspect, namely that the Speaker is a servant of the House.

As such, I believe the Speaker has a role to play in moderating debate and choosing who speaks next and so on, but there is also a great deal of cooperation that Speakers demand from members of the House in making the House function properly. I have always appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to work with other members, with the whips and House leaders of the various parties and of course with the independent members to ensure that the House functions, not always smoothly, but that it does function.

The Speaker must also represent the House and the hon. members.

Over the years, I have often had the opportunity to explain to Canadians the role and responsibilities of the members of Parliament and make Canadians aware of the importance of the work that the hon. members do here in the House and in their ridings. After all, as I said, the Speaker represents the hon. members and I believe it is very important to continue to explain their role to Canadians.

I also feel that the Speaker has a role in making very impartial rulings in the House. I have had many occasions when issues have come before the House that required a decision from the Chair, including, of course, a number of ties on votes, which happens from time to time and sometimes involves the Speaker in making a decision. On each occasion I have appreciated the support of hon. members, even when they were on the losing side of the casting vote, because I think the Speaker has to try to make the decision based on procedural practice, which of course I have sought to do on the three occasions that have happened during my term as Speaker.

In every case I have worked with members in promoting the House and its values, in promoting this place as a debating chamber, as a place where we can work together, and where parties are encouraged to work with one another to ensure that the business of the House gets done.

I feel that over the past few years the House has accomplished quite a bit. We have addressed many bills presented in the House and considered every motion introduced here.

We have had considerable progress despite the fact that we have had minority governments and of course shifting seating arrangements in the House.

I would appreciate the support of hon. members in the voting later today and I appreciate the years of support they have given me in the past.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:30 a.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

I will now call upon Mr. Marcel Proulx, the hon. member for the electoral district of Hull—Aylmer to address the House for not more than five minutes.

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. Honourable colleagues, today we will be electing a new Speaker of the House of Commons. I see many new faces this morning, as well as many of my former colleagues: young, old, women, men, newcomers, old-timers, anglophones and francophones. I think the characteristic we all share is a desire to do the best and the utmost for our constituents and for all the citizens of our country.

I would like to say a few words about the very important role the Speaker of the House plays. For my new colleagues, I would like to explain that the Speaker does more than allocate floor time. He or she presides over the House equitably and, if I am allowed a parenthesis in the context of a minority government with three opposition parties, the Speaker's judgment, resolve and impartiality in rulings on procedural issues will determine the quality of the working climate in the House.

To my former colleagues whom I am happy to see again—and I hasten to congratulate them on their re-election—I want to point out that the mood is not always as calm and generous as we find it this morning.

The climate in the House in recent years, particularly during question period, has had disastrous and unfortunate consequences on our credibility and on the democratic institution to which we belong. Let us not be surprised at the ever-growing indifference and skepticism we provoke. In fact, a recent survey revealed that politicians are trusted by only 14% of Canadians. I do not think that we have any reason to be proud of that score and I am sure we all want to improve ourselves. Let us think about that when we choose who will preside over our deliberations and work.

I have been a member of the House of Commons since 1999, and in that time I have had the privilege of working alongside members of all the parties represented in this venerable institution.

During the last Parliament I occupied the Speaker's chair as deputy chair of committees of the whole. The comments I received from members told me I did a good job of protecting their freedom of expression and thereby allowing their constituents to be heard. I am proud of the work we did together.

I also chaired the legislative committee on Bill C-38. Those who were there could judge my impartiality, my immense consideration for our democratic system and the rigour and open-mindedness I brought to the committee's meetings.

We know how demanding our work can be, intellectually, morally and physically. We know how available we have to be for our constituents and for our work in the House, in committees and in subcommittees. However I think the role and duties of members of Parliament within our democratic system must be made better known and their value re-enhanced. I pledge to do this with members if they place their confidence in me.

Dear colleagues, Canadians have the profound desire and, dare I say it, the right to have parliamentarians who inspire respect. It would be inappropriate and unrealistic to expect them to respect the institutions if their MPs' attitudes did not demonstrate their pride in and deference to the country's primary institution.

It is up to us to show Canadians that we respect the duty for which they elected us. We must represent their interests, express their convictions and debate on the floor of the House the great issues facing Canadian society. I would add that it is also part of our duty to elect a Speaker who can lead us to the fairest compromises and best decisions for the well-being of our country.

Colleagues, in placing your confidence in me today you will be giving me the privilege of serving the democratic ideology that we all share. You can count on my commitment to directing this 39th Parliament with impartiality, resolve and dignity in both of Canada's official languages.

Suspension of Sitting
Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

Before I suspend the sitting for one hour may I bring to the attention of hon. members that the bells to call members back to the House will be sounded for not more than five minutes.

The sitting is therefore suspended to the call of the Chair.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:40 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12:45 p.m.)

Sitting Resumed
Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

Order, please. Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the House will now proceed to elect a Speaker. The list of those members who are eligible as candidates has been placed in each polling station and at the table.

I would like the Sergeant-at-Arms to bring to the Chair the ballot box for inspection and to allow the Clerk of the House to inspect and secure the ballot box.

After the Clerk has unsealed the ballots, I will suggest a method of proceeding which will help to accelerate the voting process.

As we are about to begin the voting procedure, may I remind all members to print the first and last name of their candidate on their ballot paper.

I would suggest that members leave their desk, exit through the curtains and come to the table using the doors on the left or right side of the Chair on their respective side of the House. A clerk will issue to each member a ballot paper.

After casting their ballot, members are asked to leave the voting area.

The polling booths are now open to vote.

(Members were issued ballots and marked their ballots in secret at voting stations)

Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

April 3rd, 2006 / 1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

If there are any hon. members who have not voted and wish to do so, will they please vote now.

All members having voted, I do now instruct the Clerk to proceed with the counting of the ballots after I have cast my ballot.

Suspension of Sitting
Election of Speaker
First Session--39Th Parliament

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Presiding Officer Bill Blaikie

Before I suspend the sitting may I bring to the attention of hon. members that when the counting of the ballots has been completed the bells to call the members back to the House will be sounded for not more than five minutes.

The sitting is suspended to the call of the Chair.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 1:19 p.m.)

(The House resumed at 1:48 p.m.)

(The Clerk of the House having provided The Presiding Officer with the name of the member having received a majority of the votes cast)